Following the devastating violence and looting which took place on farms in Chinoyi / Doma / Mhangura areas (in Mashonaland West Province of Zimbabwe), our National Co-ordinator and Chief Inspector, Meryl Harrison, met with relevant authorities and despite being warned that we would not have much succes, received authority for SPCA Inspectors to rescue any animals left behind when farmers fled their homes.
Accompanied by two armed policemen, the Rescue Team moved onto the farms on Tuesday 14th August 2001. On the first two days, 15 dogs were rescued. Several showed signs of having been beaten, the worst being "Nandi", an elderly and very gentle and affectionate Blue Heeler whose jaw was broken. Her home had been completely ransacked and burnt. The rescue team found her in the remains of the shower, Meryl was moved to tears when she first saw Nandi - she was completely traumatised, her eyes frozen in terror. She was succesfully operated on by a wonderful vet from Chinoyi, Rob Gordon, who reported that there was scarcely a place on her body that was not bruised. Sadly, another dog from the same farm was confirmed as being shot dead during the looting. Very worrying was the absence od Nandi's daughter, "Khanya" and her eight six-week old puppies, which were reported to have been distributed to the looters.
On the second day, the team found "Tuff" (anything but) the Ridgeback. The team had spent ages searching the homestead and surrounding area, calling and whistling to Tuff. At one point, Meryl said she stopped and asked herself if she were a dog where would she hide, and she decided on a clump of banana trees at the bottom of the garden. She walked around the trees, again calling and whistling to no avail. The team had just decided to move on to the next farm, when who should creep out of the banana trees? Tuff - bewildered, but unharmed. I suggested that they rename him "Smart".
The rescues continued but the team were only given permission to go to the "resettlement" areas to look for Khanya and her puppies and other missing dogs on 21st August. Everyone was ecstatic when the team returned with Khanya and 6 of the puppies. They also found "Zulu" that day, a stocky Ridgeback X who the "settlers" had tried to use for hunting game and he had been badly gored by a warthog. He had been left untreated for several days and there was considerable tissue damage and infection but Dr Gordon managed to remove the dead tissue and patch him up nicely.
By the end of August, 43 dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, ducks, 2 Egyptian Geese and 3 Laughing Doves had been rescued, including another 6 male Ridgebacks: "Barney & Ben", "Scamp", "Sergeant", "Tux" and "Hughgenic" - and a female Ridgeback, "Cider", as well as a Ridgeback x Rotty "Jimbo".
"Sergeant" had a broken front leg after being caught in the "crossfire" of rocks and bricks being hurled. A strapping young Staffy was also rescued with an axe imbedded in his back - it is a miracle that his spine was not severed!
When Meryl left Chinoyi to return to Matabeleland, there were still 5 dogs missing, including 2 of the Blue Heeler puppies. One of the dogs, a black Labrador was presumed dead as he was reported to have been very severly beaten.
Today Meryl is on her way back to Mash West to the Beatrice area, where a farmer has been arrested for setting "gun-traps" and injuring a settler. There are reported to be about 10 dogs at the homestead and neigbouring farmers are not being permitted to feed them.
We are most fortunate indeed that we are able to go into areas that nobody else can, and for the most part, the police have provided armed escorts.
The Zimbabwe National SPCA would be very appreciative of any contribution towards their efforts. The major expenses are fuel, drugs and food for the animals.