Furever housemates — for the next 21 days at least

NOT ABANDONED: Kennel assistant Denise Gertse cuddles up to one of her housemates for the next 21 days
FOR THE LOVE OF DOGS NOT ABANDONED: Kennel assistant Denise Gertse cuddles up to one of her housemates for the next 21 days

A housemate who is always happy to see you, gives the best cuddles and forgives you no matter how many times you mess up ... sounds ideal right?

But in exchange you have to give up all contact with the rest of your family and friends ... not as fun any more.

This selfless act is being undertaken by five Uitenhage SPCA staff members who will see to it that the homeless cats and dogs at the shelter are taken care of during the three-week lockdown.

Leaving their own families at home, a group of men and women have elected to spend their time in isolation with the strays, even giving up Easter weekend with their loved ones to do so.

“Someone has to do it,” unfazed sounding Uitenhage SPCA manager Marion Diener said.

While it may seem like the ultimate sacrifice for some, for Diener the decision came naturally because of her love for animals.

“I am just going to look at it as a little holiday ... a very different type of holiday,” she joked.

Diener has worked at the SPCA for almost four years.

But she is not the only one sacrificing the comfort of her own home — and one-on-one time with her family — for a far less comfortable stay at the SPCA premises.

Four other employees — inspector Mariaan Wentzel and kennel assistants Patrick Whitebooy, Edwin Moyi and Denise Gertse — did not hesitate when it came to volunteering to do the same.

Diener said a safe sleeping space and basic ablution and kitchen facilities were available to them and had been stocked up with all the necessities and hygiene products to ensure their safety during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Uitenhage and district SPCA chair Deidre Swift said the sacrifice, dedication and commitment to the animals by these five individuals did not go unnoticed.

“It is immensely appreciated, especially in these troubling times.

“We are kitting the kennels out with supplies to feed our animals and staff for the next few weeks,” Swift said.

The SPCA had, however, incurred unexpected expenses in terms of sanitation equipment, medication and cleaning supplies as a result of the lockdown.

Toppled with the fact that the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality had not paid them since December, the latest development had financially crippled them even further.

She therefore urged anyone wanting to donate towards their plight to do so in a bid to avoid the organisation being brought to its knees.

While the SPCA remains closed to the public for adoptions effective immediately, Swift said stray dogs and cats could be collected by owners from a safe distance at the front gate.

Adoption papers could meanwhile be filled in online and the necessary inspections and meet and greets would be carried out after the 21-day isolation period.

In case of an emergency such as animal cruelty or abandonment, the SPCA can be contacted on 041-992-3016.