Neglected by the humans she trusted most, this mommy dog was having difficulties nursing and caring for her puppies. Moreover, when other humans finally intervened, they confiscated the sick puppies and left the mamma dog to continue to struggle at the hands of her owners. In fact, the poor mama must have thought that she’d never see her pups again, until a familiar shape tottered into view…
This story begins, however, with Rachael Sylvester, the U.K.-born founder of a not-for-profit South Africa-based organization called Sidewalk Specials. Strangely, though, Sylvester originally moved to Cape Town to further her acting career. But she found the desperate struggle of the city’s abandoned animals heartbreaking, and it changed the course of her life.
Indeed, she initially created a rescue dog foster program in 2014, and two years later she registered the concept officially as the Sidewalk Specials charity. Sylvester’s work, however, isn’t based in any one place; instead she uses several foster homes to house rescued dogs directly. What’s more, through word of mouth among the South African markets and social media, she often has plenty of foster parents available to house dogs taken straight off the street or from death row in kennels.
“Most of my rescues are straight from the streets, or called into me by vets who would otherwise have no option but to euthanize,” Sylvester wrote on GoFundMe. “We have been able to help dogs who would normally have been destroyed [such as] pit bulls, sick dogs, fighting dogs and old dogs.”
In June 2016, Sylvester was sent a disturbing text message that oozed concern and desperation. It informed her that a litter of puppies and their mom were in bad health and in need of rescue. Something, of course, had to be done.
Like a true rescue hero, Sylvester answered the call and made her way to the given address. Later, it became apparent that the text was from a worried neighbor concerned about the condition of the dogs. But the owners of the canines were less than happy to see Sidewalk Specials on their doorstep.
However, the owners did finally consent to Sidewalk Specials’ request for the dachshund-mixed puppies, but refused to hand over the nursing mom. The rescue team agreed because they had not yet seen the physical state of the puppies, and they therefore wondered, “How bad can it be?” In fact, it would only get worse…
Indeed, it got worse the moment that the owners handed over seven puppies. Indeed, as soon as the rescuers saw the condition of the puppies, they knew that they would need to find a way to rescue the mom as well.
The puppies, of course, were suffering from a bad case of neglect. Sidewalk Specials described them in a YouTube video as “sick, flea- and worm-riddled puppies, underfed and weak.” The caring neighbor who made the rescue call, then, had just saved these pups’ lives.
Even in better care, however, the pups seemed to be “missing their mommy,” Sidewalk Specials reported. And after learning just how poorly the puppies were, Sylvester knew that their mom was probably living on borrowed time. Still, with the owner unwilling to cooperate, things were going to get complicated.
“There[’re] times when dogs are rescued, then there’re times when they have to be confiscated,” Sidewalk Specials wrote on their website. “Sometimes noses are put out of joint – our job, however, is to put the dogs’ well-being first, the humans… well, they should know better!”
The neighbor again texted the team pleading that the mom’s condition had gotten worse without her pups. Thankfully, after some convincing, the team managed to get the owners’ permission to give up the mamma pooch into Sidewalk Specials’ care. They received the mamma dog just in time.
Certainly, the mama dog, a dachshund mix like her pups, was painfully thin, her ribs were clearly visible, and she was malnourished and dehydrated. Her rescuers “rushed her to Vet Point [where] she was given a 50/50 chance of survival.”
“She spent the day on a drip… then we had a surprise for her,” Sidewalk Specials wrote on their video. Both the mamma and her puppies had showed signs of depression from their separation, and the moment that the mother dog saw her puppies was heart-melting.
Indeed, you can feel the relief on the dog’s face when she realizes that not only are she and her babies safe, but they are also together again. The pups, moreover, couldn’t wait to see her: within seconds, she was mobbed by all seven of her beautiful puppies, and she covered them with kisses.
Later, thanks to funding from Break The Loop, the whole canine family were dewormed and given the treatment that they needed to start a new life free of neglect. What’s more, Mommy and pups spent their recuperation time in a foster home where they could get their strength back and stay together.
In a caring and safe environment, the dogs grew stronger and made a full recovery. They even made some unexpected friends and learned how to socialize outside their family.
When they were finally in fighting-fit form, then, the rescued tykes began to find new human owners. Unfortunately, adopting out all eight dogs to the same family would have been a near-impossible task, but at least some of the pups managed to find their furr-ever homes together.
Some of the furbabies, though, were still looking for loving families at the time of Sidewalk Specials’ video, including the mamma dog. Hopefully, however, they will soon find their special humans to give them all the love they truly deserve.
Thanks to Sidewalk Specials, one of few pro-life shelters in Cape Town, this furry family has a second chance at a life filled with love. You can find out more about this amazing charity at their website.