Home, sweet home for lost Labrador

Pumbaa and owner Melvin Southgate.

Lotus River resident Melvin Southgate was overjoyed when an unidentified good Samaritan found his beloved lost dog in Parkwood, last month.

After nine months of searching for Pumbaa, Mr Southgate was happy to be reunited with the Labrador on January 19 but also upset with the people who had apparently abused his dog as the SPCA found chain marks on its neck.

“How could anyone abuse an animal like that? Pumbaa somehow escaped, because a man found him on the streets and called the Cape of Good Hope SPCA in Grassy Park.”

Mr Southgate had vowed to find Pumbaa after he disappeared.

“I remember the day he disappeared: Pumbaa, three other Labradors and one pavement special (a mixed breed) were outside the gate getting ready for a walk.

“Pumbaa ran after a bitch that was on heat and he apparently couldn’t find his way home.”

Mr Southgate and fellow members of the Sixth Street Neighbourhood Watch went out looking for Pumbaa and put word out for people to report back if they had any information about the dog.

Mr Southgate assumed Pumbaa went in the direction of the Ottery area so he asked the residents of the Ottery flats to keep a look out for the dog.

“A month later someone phoned and I went to fetch the dog they thought was Pumbaa.”

As Pumbaa had been implanted with a microchip, Mr Southgate took this dog to the SPCA to be scanned.

“The SPCA found out that the dog didn’t have a chip implanted, so it couldn’t have been Pumbaa.”

However, out of sympathy, Mr Southgate took the dog home and named him Mister.

Mister mated with Pumbaa’s sister Timon and they had puppies.

Timon and Pumbaa were originally owned by Mr Southgate’s friend Darren Mabee who is based at the Wynberg army camp.

“The dogs were always taken to a park close-by, but after taking them back to the camp they would run off to the park on their own again.”

Mr Southgate was asked if he wanted the dogs and because he didn’t want his friend to send them off to the SPCA, he decided to take them. “Now I have six dogs, and the other three dogs are called Angel, Arial and Lila.”

Mr Southgate also works for the army and he is based in Kommetjie. “I have five labs (Labradors) who are friendly-natured dogs and they love to play and swim in my pool. These labs are often used as guide dogs for the blind. They are also very good watch dogs.”

Then, on January 19, Mr Southgate got a lovely surprise call from the SPCA to say that they had found Pumbaa. He anxiously went to fetch his dog. The SPCA official shot a video to capture the reunion of Mr Southgate and Pumbaa.

“When my girlfriend Claudia and I went to meet him she cried when she saw the state he was in. Although his tail wagged, when he saw us, he was thin and weak. I took him home and took care of him.

“At first he was scared and he would fight with the little dog. He was also very possessive over his food and wouldn’t let anyone near it. But later after I pacified him, he got used to sharing with his buddies.

“I fed him chicken which I buy regularly from a woman in Kenwyn. When she heard about Pumbaa she gave me a boot load of chicken for free. I fed him three times a day and gave him goat’s milk to drink. After six days, he was back to square one and he as fat and healthy as can be,” said Mr Southgate.

He said he would have loved to have been a fly on the wall to see what Pumbaa went through while he was on his own. “However, it would have broken my heart to witness the trauma he went through. I still cringe to think that he may have died if that good Samaritan did not come to his rescue. So thank you to that person who saved his life.”

Belinda Abraham, communications, education and resource development manager for the SPCA, said: “He was scanned as soon as he came in and Mr Southgate was there to fetched him within an hour..

“He was found roaming the street by a member of the public and he did have a heavy chain around his neck which left an indent where the chain sat. Our best guess is he was stolen, tied up and neglected and somehow managed to escape.”

Ms Abraham said to have your dog implanted with a chip will cost
R254 at the SPCA, “It’s a small chip (grain of rice sized) that is implanted under the skin through an inject-
ion.”

When asked if animal abuse is rife she said: “There is a definite increase in the cases of abandonment and neglect towards animals based on the number of calls we receive on a daily basis. We ask the public to truly consider the costs and care required to properly care for an animal before making the decision to buy a pet. If the decision to purchase an animal is one you are comfortable with, as a responsible pet owner, we urge you to please sterilise your animal to reduce unwanted litters.

“Please ensure your animals are provided with adequate fresh food, water and medical care at all times along with all the requisite vaccinations and deworming to ensure a healthy and happy animal.”

Should you suspect an animal is being neglected or abused, call the SPCA on 021 700 4158/9 or after hours on 083 326 1604.