On 15th September, 2020, City of Johannesburg Executive Mayor, Cllr Geoffrey Makhubo, sent out a newsletter with interesting stats for the city but started with the words, ‘Unity is indeed strength.’
These words have a very personal meaning for me, as we moved to level one on Monday 21st September, 2020.
I remember in the last week of March before lockdown, standing each morning under the trees with our staff socially distancing themselves, as we discussed the changes that were coming. Pandemic, not in our lifetime, stressful. Planning for the unknown.
To our wonderful and caring staff and Chairman, I thank you. You stood with me every day discussing what needed to be done. You made yourselves available and understood the risks-we had animals to care for, families to provide for and support. But you also understood the rewards of caring and protecting the animals in our care and those in the community, and while we had to sacrifice a lot, we also gained a lot. This was a chance to change the way we worked for a different future.
To President Ramaphosa, cabinet, NICD, DOH, DoEL, and all the role players in the lockdown and keeping us safe. We respect the difficult decision you had to make. We thank you for recognising that animal care and veterinary services were essential services and allowing us to continue to serve the community and care and protect its animals.
To the SAVC, SAVA, Labour Guide and other legal sources, universities and schools as secondary advisers for guiding us through unknown waters in our sector and for our staff.
To our clients (many new and old): we thank you for understanding that changes had to be made to work safely and continue assisting you through each lockdown level.
To our donors, corporate sponsors, state veterinary services, suppliers and concerned community members: thank you for your support, donations and understanding we are doing the best we can in the circumstances and for all the many ways you helped us and ensured we were safe and our animals taken care of.
We offered emergency services initially, but slowly scaled this up to general consultations, vaccinations, sterilisations, orthopaedics and more complicated surgeries based on the needs of the community. We moved between lockdowns one level at a time, assessing the risks and made decisions based on our resources and the safety of our staff and animals. Adoptions restarted and the Charity Shop eventually reopened. Appointments caused stress and frustration but was based on best practice and international guidance.
We opened an online shop selling pet food delivered to your door and will add some summertime products soon. In response to our community needs, we partnered with our local Meals on Wheels and have a feeding scheme locally for those in need.
This has all been done working within the regulations and guidelines set out by government for us. To keep our staff, clients and community safe. The transition has not been easy, especially moving to an appointment system in hospital and kennels and for accessing our property. But we’ve done it to improve our efficiency, manage our workload and safeguard our staff especially those at risk, over 60years or with comorbidities. Without our staff, there is no service.
So, it is with great excitement that we will be returning to full services and pre-lockdown working hours from 1st November,2020. Masks are still mandatory as are social distancing, hand sanitisation, only one person per pet in hospital and making appointments first. We expect a few teething problems, but no-ones perfect-after all this is the ‘new normal’!
We’ve made it through half a year of stress, anxiety and uncertainty, but showed we are resilient and I am proud to be part of your team. Let’s continue to look to the future and serving our community.
I end with the words again, ‘Unity is indeed strength’. We hope that you will continue the journey with us.