I’m a South African freelance/part time photographer mainly specialising in family portraits, engagement sessions and weddings but I recently had the opportunity to document something I have always been extremely passionate about.

In South Africa we have a lot of (sometimes) illegal settlements, this is due to communities and people not getting adequate housing as promised, a lack of jobs and many other reasons I won’t quite go into.

Along with these settlements comes a major overpopulation of animals due to owners not being able to afford to spay and neuter their pets and organisations not having enough resources to solve the problem on a large scale. This is sadly not a problem that our government prioritises in any way despite it being a risk to not only the animals but also the people in these places. Without proper care and vaccinations, the animals carry diseases such as parvo, distemper, mange and in the worst case scenarios; rabies. Some places are also over run with ticks that cause lime disease and billary.

I got the opportunity to follow this small private organisation around the settlement, they focus on feeding the animals and treating them for ticks and fleas. They also aim to educate the communities on how to best care for their pets and what to do when an animal is sick and injured.

Unfortunately, like many similar organisations, they have a major lack of resources and can only do so much.

I am hoping this post will create some awareness and shed some light on an often overlooked problem in South Africa.

FEEDING TIME – This pack of dogs followed up around most of the day. A lot of dogs roam free in the area despite belonging to someone.

SHARING IS CARING – Young puppy most likely riddled with worms shares food with it’s mom

DOING THE ROUNDS – Volunteers go from house to house to assist where they can

NO MORE FLEAS – A puppy gets sprayed with a strong tick and flea solution, this will hopefully prevent tick bite fever and other deadly illnesses

FETCHING FOOD – Sisters walk home after collecting some food for their beloved cat

KEEPING GUARD – Dog stands on pile of rubble in owners yard

CONVERSATIONS – Volunteer speaks to community members about their litter of puppies. Many of these people care deeply for their animals.

MOTHERS LOVE – Mom sits with an extremely ill puppy while volunteers treat the rest of the litter

TRAGIC END – Sick puppy who was later removed, he sadly passed away the following day

SURVIVOR – Young dog on the mend after being treated for a stab wound

MOM – One of the many females who have most likely already had multiple litters of puppies

PUPPIES WILL BE PUPPIES – Volunteers spray one of the 50+ puppies, this one was nicknamed Digger

LOVED – Women fetching food for her cat asked for a picture claiming she has the most beautiful cat in the world!

NOT ALL BAD – Volunteers drop off food for dog and her litter. They were in an enclosed yard and in great condition despite the circumstances.

HAPPINESS – Despite the urgent need for resources, a lot of the animals in these communities are very much loved and have beautiful personalities. Most issues will be solved by getting these dogs and cats fixed, vaccinated and treated for skin and internal parasites. Organisations are doing the best they can but with more dogs than people, it’s an almost impossible task.