The SPCA means different things to different people. To our team, we are an open admission shelter: we will not turn any unwanted or stray animal away. We respond to countless cruelty cases reported by the public and assist desperate owners who have realised they cannot allow their pets to endure another litter of puppies or kittens.
So often, we hear the words “don’t take it to the SPCA”, but then the next day our dedicated team of Inspectors are rushing to a dog that was hit by a car after being dumped along the road, or to rescue a box of kittens abandoned on a street corner.
Our team arrives every day, knowing that today will not be the day when we won’t receive a call about an abused dog that is tied up or have a distraught owner rush into our Hospital Reception with their treasured cat in their arms needing help.
For the last 150 years, the Cape of Good Hope SPCA team has arrived each day knowing they have taken over the mantle from those that came before, to hold the line. Whether that is working through the night to check on the animals in our hospital, an Inspector rushing out for another emergency, or our adoption team waving farewell to a treasured pet on their way to a new forever home.
When you come through our front gate, you enter a place filled with unconditional love, respect, integrity, purpose, meaning and value flowing through the passages and kennels – almost as naturally as one would feel the blood rushing through your veins.
These are the fundamental values that our team strive to live by, not because they have to, but because they have the DNA of kindness and compassion etched onto their hearts, most of which they wear on their sleeves every day. They are the ones who look past the mange, the cropped ears, the overgrown nails, and the tangled hair, to see each beautiful animal that comes through our gate. They see the souls – sometimes gentle, sometimes fearful, with the question in their eyes – is it going to be better now?
One of our many dedicated team members is Janine Ely, our Animal Hospital Case Manager.
We recently sat down with Janine to speak about her and why she gets up every day to come to work at the SPCA.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Could you tell us a little about yourself:
I have been working at the SPCA since 1997, fresh out of school. I started off as a temp helping out, in the Hospital Reception. Two years later I was offered a permanent position and never left. Started out as a general assistant, then progressing to receptionist, thereafter supervisor and most recently I was appointed Patient Case Manager.
At home, I have a wonderfully supportive husband and 3 children. We have four special dogs and a cat that rules the roost.
What does your job entail?
As a Case Manager, my role involves facilitating the multiple aspects of our client and patient care.
I strive to coordinate, care that is safe, timely, effective, efficient, equitable, and client-centred. I am accountable for the full patient care cycle.
My duties include but are not limited to assessing, planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating and reviewing case progress and determining case closures.
The clients that walk through our doors come from all walks of life. When people bring in their animals to the SPCA, they trust us to help them make informed decisions by acting as their advocates regarding their treatment options.
Every day is different. Over the years, I have had the privilege of building good relationships with our clients. There are clients that have come to the SPCA over the last 20 years who still come to our reception and ask for me personally. I have stood with them when their animals have reached the end of their lives and they have made the decision as caring animal guardians not to let their animals continue to suffer.
How many people do you see on average?
On a busy day, we can see up to 150 animals and their owners.
Can you share a moment that has stood out for you the most?
Every day has a special moment that touches me. One owner sticks in my memory. It was a weekend in winter when an inspector from another animal welfare organisation rushed a dog to our Hospital, as they did not have a vet on duty.
The dog needed emergency surgery – it was touch-and-go. The surgery was, fortunately, a success but the dog still needed strong antibiotics and plenty of TLC.
On the Monday, we contacted the welfare organisation to find out where the owner was, and they were going to send someone to his home as he did not have a telephone number.
The next afternoon, a man walked through our doors, nearly in tears wanting to find out about his dog, Precious, that had come in over the weekend and he was told it had come to us.
I realised that Precious was that dog that was rushed in over the weekend. She was ready to be discharged but we had not been able to contact him. He waited in one of our consult rooms and I went to fetch her from the ward to see him. Her reaction was all I needed to know that she was his dog. He bent down and gently picked her up, the little noises of absolute delight from her seeing him was a beautiful sight.
He had walked nearly two hours to reach our Hospital to find out how she was and I was so happy we could reunite them. I organised for our Mobile Clinic to take them home, once the vet formally discharged Precious.
To this day, I still get chills when I think of Precious and her owner.
Being in welfare is not the easiest environment to work in, so what inspires and drives you to keep being a part of this organisation?
My passion for working with people, animals, and our team are the reasons I do what I do, for as long as I have.
The dedicated team embodies my second family and this allowed for strong bonds and friendships to grow.
There are weeks I spend more time with our team than I do with my own family. We laugh in the good times and cry together in the not-so-good times, but we are as we have always been: a strong and dedicated team.