Zimbabwe's dog population is at least 3 million animals. Most of these dogs live in rural areas of the country, where the community has little access to veterinary treatment for their animals.

Rural Animal Welfare Clinics: building community networks

The average lifespan of a rural dog is approximately three years and during this short period, female dogs will have a number of litters of puppies – often giving birth to weak and susceptible pups while the mother’s health also deteriorates with each pregnancy. The vast majority of these dogs are not vaccinated and outbreaks of canine distemper, rabies and parvo virus further put their lives, and in the case of rabies, the communities lives, at risk.

Human deaths, as a result of contracting rabies, have increased in recent years and this is now a major cause for concern. There is a tendency for these free-roaming dogs to form packs which scavenge for morsels of food and are often to blame for attacks on humans, particularly school going children, and other animals.

The purchase of a suitably equipped ‘bus’ together with a team of Veterinarians and their assistants has enabled VAWZ to travel to remote rural areas around Zimbabwe offering animal vaccination and sterilization clinics to a number of communities. Sick and injured animals are also treated as ‘walk in’ patients, as well as treatment for parasites and general health issues. Communities are educated on how to care for their dogs and livestock. These services are carried out free of charge to our rural communities.

These campaigns are run throughout the country during the winter months namely May-September. Areas covered at present are Honde Valley, Chimanimani, Nyanga, Victoria Falls, Beit Bridge, Caledonia, Christon Bank, Old Mazowe and Marondera. Each campaign is 5 days long and a team of 3 veterinarians, 2 nurses/assistants and the co-ordinator are in attendance, as well as two rabies vaccinators.

In the previous two years we have sterilized around 1500 dogs whilst vaccinating over 20 000 against rabies. The difference we have been able to make in the lives of these dogs has been amazing – the dogs, their owners and the community as a whole have benefited immensely and people now have a much more positive relationship with their animals.

These rural animal welfare campaigns would not be possible without the generous assistance of sponsors.

The Global Alliance for the Control of Rabies (GARC) has recognized our work in the field of rabies control and VAWZ have been runners up to their prestigious award for two years running.

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VAWZ is a registered Private Voluntary Organisation PVO # 38/16

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