Finding Her A Home

She had waited for over a month for someone to take her. Before that she had been homeless, regularly turning up at the Cluny property in Fouriesburg. It had seemed as if nobody wanted her.

Rebecca waiting for her forever home while being cared for by Cluny Animal Trust.
Rebecca waiting for her forever home while being cared for by Cluny Animal Trust.
In September we ran a post in Facebook about a delightful young cat looking for a home. A friendly, affectionate and playful cat, she had clearly been someone’s pet before an unknown event caused her to live on the streets. Cluny Animal Trust had taken her in and kept her safe, fed and cared for, until finally her fortunes changed.

Rebecca after her adoption.
Rebecca after her adoption.
In late October Margy Wilson came forward and offered her a home in Clarens. She now has her own name, Rebecca, her own home to live and sleep in, and she even has a sister, Leah, to play with.

Every now and then Cluny has an animal, a cat or a dog, that needs a new home, and this is a time when Cluny depends heavily on the generosity and kindness of local residents.

Cluny Animal Trust was established in 2011 as a Veterinary Welfare. This followed on from the voluntary sterilization work that Katherine Barker, our veterinarian, had been doing for years in the area. When Katherine first arrived in Fouriesburg from Cape Town in 2001 she discovered a colony of feral cats living behind her practice premises. These cats had been drawn there by scraps of meat offcuts from the butchery next door.

Rebecca's sister Leah.
Rebecca’s sister Leah.
That’s where it all started. One by one Katherine trapped and sterilized every member of the colony. Sterilization of cats and dogs is a cornerstone of animal welfare. The plight of unwanted and homeless animals brought about by uncontrolled breeding results in many of the animal welfare issues encountered within communities, and also contributes to the spread of diseases. In accordance with a growing pro-life ethos in animal welfare, intervention by sterilization is critical.

For this reason Cluny Animal Trust’s primary focus is on preventive veterinary medicine. The clinics in Clarens, Fouriesburg and Bethlehem run by Jan Sander, Cluny’s Animal Welfare Assistant, are complimentary to sterilization campaigns. These are also preventive interventions, focusing on parasite control, immunizations and early detection of contagious conditions like mange.

Another necessary aspect of preventive intervention is education. When Cluny Animal Trust was established in 2011, education in responsible pet ownership was identified as an integral component of its mission.

While Cluny was not established as a general animal welfare, the responsibility of rehoming of animals does from time to time fall into its lap, and our local residents who come forward to offer homes are a godsend to Cluny.

Rebecca reclining in her new home.
Rebecca reclining in her new home.
Margy Wilson is a Trustee of Cluny Animal Trust and a regular and loyal volunteer. Cluny is enormously grateful to Margy for providing Rebecca with a safe and loving home. Leah, Rebecca’s new sister, is also a rescue cat adopted by Margy.

If you wish to make a donation, please see the details below:

Bank: Standard

Acc No: 035278846

Branch Code: 055 033 (Bethlehem)

Please quote reference: CFRCAT

You can email your proof of payment to .

Article text by Mary Walker. Photos by Mary Walker and Margy Wilson.

Preventable Diseases In Dogs And Cats


PARVOVIRUS (Cat Flu – Katgriep)

This highly contagious disease of dogs, usually under 1 year of age, has symptoms of vomiting, diarrhoea, severe depression and dehydration.  The name “Cat Flu”, is a misnomer, as there are no “flu” symptoms and it is a disease of dogs.  Parvovirus can be caught from any direct or indirect contact with a sick or early recovered dog.  This is a frequently fatal disease and should be treated as soon as the symptoms appear.  It can be a protracted process, usually involving hospitalisation, intravenous fluids, and numerous medications, and may still ultimately end in death.

DISTEMPER (Hondesiekte)

This often fatal disease usually occurs in two distinct phases.  Initially, there is a fever, with a runny nose and cough, which can proceed to a decrease in appetite, diarrhoea and vomiting.  This clears up and the dog appears normal for the duration of a few days to a month.  The dog then develops “nervous symptoms”, such as fitting, muscle twitches, paralysis, blindness, followed by coma and then death.  This disease is spread by inhalation of infected particles (as with flu) or by close contact between dogs.   The dog should be given supportive and antibiotic treatment as early as possible, in an attempt to prevent the progression of the disease, unfortunately this is often unsuccessful.


This disease can vary in severity from a mild fever, resulting in liver damage to a fatal disease.  It can be spread from a sick dog, by contact with its urine, or by indirect contact – that is if someone touches it, then touches a healthy dog.  The early symptoms include fever and coughing, followed by jaundice, seizures and terminal coma.  Although this disease is not common, if contracted, it usually results in death.


This disease is not usually fatal, but in young dogs, it can cause runting, stunting syndrome.  It is spread by inhalation of infected air particles, and also by dogs which are in close contact with one another.  Clinical signs include a copious nasal discharge, fever, tonsillitis and a non-productive cough.


This is a fatal disease, which is spread by biting, licking of fresh wounds, scratching and by splashes of infected fluids, into the eye or mouth.  Mere contact offers no risk!  The incubation period (that is the time taken from exposure to the clinical signs) is anything between 15 days to six months.  There are two forms of Rabies – the “Furious Form” and the “Dumb Form:, both starting as a dramatic change in behaviour.

Furious Form”          Depraved appetite, salivation, inability to swallow, biting and chasing moving objects.  This is followed by paralysis and death.

Dumb Form”:           Rapid depression, salivation, paralysis and death.  Once symptoms start, there is no known treatment

It is important to note that all mammals, including man, are susceptible to Rabies.




This is a flu-like disease, which can result in fatalities in very young cats, and in cats which stop eating. This is as a result of not being able to smell their food.  A cat’s sense of smell is very important when it comes to eating.  If a cat cannot smell its food, it won’t know that it is food, and to them, it would be like chewing on cardboard.  There are numerous causes of Snuffles – viral, bacterial and protozoal (a multicellular organism).  The Calici Virus (viral) and Chlamydia (protozoal) are the most dangerous, and these are the two against which we vaccinate.


This is the cat equivalent of parvovirus.  Clinical signs are fever, diarrhea, persistent vomiting and dehydration.  This disease can be spread by direct contact between cats and by flies and fleas.  This highly infectious disease is frequently fatal.

All these above mentioned diseases are preventable.  A simple series of vaccinations, from 6-8 weeks of age, for puppies and kittens, and a yearly booster, will protect your pets from the disastrous consequences of contracting these illnesses.  By law, a yearly Rabies vaccination is required, but although the other diseases are not “controlled”, it is advisable to prevent these too.







Theatre on Wheels

She was delivered in May this year. For the last six months she has become a familiar sight in the Clarens and Fouriesburg area. Striking white with blue and mauve logos, a great rectangular van with powerful engine that makes her sound like the business, she displays upon her forehead, in understated lines, her unpretentious name. Daisy!


The Cluny Animal Trust Mobile Theatre and Clinic was manufactured by Michael Vermeulen of Centurion Bus Manufacturers. Michael has built a number of similar Mobile Units for the state veterinary sector in accordance with standards set by the South African Veterinary Association. When an anonymous donor provided funding to Cluny Animal Trust specifically for a mobile veterinary unit and Katherine, our veterinarian, approached Michael, he turned a dream into a reality. Not only did he provide a very reduced quote for the job, but during the build he knocked another R120 thousand off the cost. Cluny, being a Non Profit Organisation, would not have managed this without Michael’s generosity.

Mobile Operating Theatre

allhandsWhile there are other NGOs and Public Benefit Organisations in South Africa that own Veterinary Mobile Clinics, Cluny Animal Trust is the only one that owns a Veterinary Mobile Operating Theatre. The Mobile Theatre and Clinic is designed and equipped to facilitate the receiving of animal patients on site, caging them before and after surgery, and carrying out the necessary surgical procedures, all in a controlled and sterile environment.

theatretablesThe theatre has two stainless steel operating tables that are fully adjustable, both in terms of height and angle and, in the case of both tables, the design is such that a ‘gutter’ runs along the middle of the table for the purpose of catching fluids, which are then eliminated by flow into a receptacle below the end of the table.

anaestheticmachFor now the theatre has only one anaesthetic machine. This is a hindrance when there are two vets, as only one can use the anaesthetic machine, while the other must use the intravenous method where the anaesthetic is administered through a vein. This necessitates the presence of a nurse who monitors the level of anaesthesia and might need to ‘top up’ the drug during surgery.

Animal Cages

cliniccagesThere are a total of nine cages in the clinic for animals brought in for surgery – four small, three medium and two large. The two large cages can be divided into two smaller cages when necessary. Each cage has a removable stainless steel tray at its base to catch fluids. All the cages are accessed from inside the clinic, and the two large cages can be accessed from the outside as well.

Most outreach clinics cover an entire day so, once an animal has recovered after its anaesthetic and the owner has taken it, the cage is made ready for the next animal. A large number of animals can thus be processed in one day.

Outside the Clinic

entrancesThe clinic has two entrances, one on the left side and one at the back. Both have metal steps and handrails, which can be stowed away on brackets on the inside when the vehicle is in transit.

awningOn the right hand side of the vehicle is a retractable awning. This is where the Animal Welfare Assistant normally does routine procedures like dipping of dogs. He might also use this area for clients to fill in forms for registration purposes, as the awning provides shelter in all weather. In high winds, however, the awning will automatically retract to avoid damage.

Other Clinic Features

scrubupThe clinic is designed to take care of all requirements. There is a sink where the clinicians can ‘scrub up’. The vehicle has a large tank that holds 250 litres of water, as well as a used water tank. Water is heated by either an electric geyser or a gas geyser. In addition, there is a cubicle with a chemical toilet and hand basin.

clinicadminThere is plenty of storage space in the clinic for veterinary disposables, equipment and drugs, as well as a small fridge that runs on either electricity or battery. The clinic is also equipped with a standard surgical trolley. There is also a large counter where various clinical procedures or administration can be done, and compartments where files, clipboards and paperwork can be stowed.

The Vehicle

clinicgeneratorThe vehicle is a secondhand Nissan UD60 6 tonne truck, with a brand new custom designed back on an extended chassis. Built into the left side just behind the passenger seat is a 6.5 horsepower petrol generator, which stows away into its compartment when not in use. The clinic can operate on either mains electricity or on the generator.

Partnering with Other Animal Welfares

clinicbundusTo date Cluny Animal Trust has used the Mobile Theatre and Clinic in the Fouriesburg, Clarens and Bethlehem areas. However, the Trust plans to partner with other animal welfare organisations further afield to carry out mass sterilization clinics. This will not be done at the cost of Trust funds. The Partner Organisation will be responsible for raising the funds associated with the clinics, to cover the travelling expenses of the vehicle and the veterinary and other costs of the clinic. In this way Cluny Animal Trust will be contributing to a wider animal welfare drive without depleting its funding in the area of its current domicile.

Donors, sponsors, supporters and members of the public who wish to view the Cluny Animal Trust Mobile Theatre and Clinic are always welcome to do so. Please contact us to make an arrangement or, alternatively, come to one of the sites where the vehicle is parked during routine clinics. For more information, please phone Katherine Barker on 0827886287, Jan Sander on 0782462553 or the office on 0582230918.

If you wish to make a donation, please see the details below:

Bank: Standard

Acc No: 035278846

Branch Code: 055 033 (Bethlehem)

Please quote reference: CFRCAT

You can email your proof of payment to .

Article text and photos by Mary Walker