The simple but significant act of caring for animals can bring people together and make a lasting difference. This moving story is a perfect example.
Not long ago, a special teacher with a passion for young children and animals inspired a heartwarming rescue mission lead by a group of caring, determined paramedics. That teacher was Chantelle Van Den Berg from Stoneridge Primary School in Eden Park, located outside Alberton.
On Thursday 17 November 2016, after being booked off sick for two days, she was informed that a dog had been hiding under her mobile classroom since Monday the 14th of November. The motionless dog only reacted when Chantelle tried to reach it and refused to drink any water. Concerned about the dog’s health and emotional state, Chantelle shared a post on a private animal care group to ask for advice.
Luckily, Chantelle’s instincts soon inspired a heartwarming response that made a remarkable difference. Around four o’clock that afternoon, Bianca Castleman Peens – an intermediate life support paramedic from ER24 whose heart belongs to animals – responded to Chantelle’s post and summoned nearby friends for this urgent rescue mission. Bianca and Kathrine De Bruin (an adventurous, advanced life support paramedic at Netcare911)– along with their respective work partners – headed to Chantelle’s school in their ambulances to search for the dog. Once they located the building, they realised the dog was almost impossible to reach, but they didn’t give up.
They knew the only way to save the dog was to crawl underneath the building which barely offered any wiggle room. Once underneath the structure, Bianca and Kathrine tried to win the frightened dog’s trust. Bianca also tried to offer her food while Kathrine left to fetch blankets and gloves, in case they had to pull the dog out.
Unfortunately the dog wasn’t interested in the piece of chicken from Kathrine’s lunchbox, so it was time to put on the gloves. Bianca placed the blanket over her arm and gently tried to pull the dog out by the legs, while Kathrine was pulling Bianca out from under the classroom. The dog resisted a little, but Bianca got a hold of her body while Kathrine gently assisted with the legs. Their partners offered advice from outside and carried equipment as well as a stretcher for the dog.
Eventually the beautiful female Boerboel was saved and out in the open! The team held and tried to calm their frightened rescuee before moving her to the ambulance. Kathrine noted that she was scared, but not aggressive, almost as if she knew they were there to help. She seemed relieved and grateful as she licked Bianca in the face, but she was definitely shaky and tired.
Kibler Park Veterinary Clinic was phoned in advance to describe the situation. Once they arrived, the Veterinarian, Dr. Erasmus, explained that the rescued Boerboel was dehydrated and very underweight, but that she would be fine.
She was very traumatised and extremely scared of people when she arrived at Kibler Park Vet, where she is still being cared for. Since then, Dr. Erasmus and his team, who call her Annie, have been working with her hands-on, which has helped her recovery immensely. Through regular socialising with other dogs and people, she has learned to trust humans again. According to Dr. Erasmus, when meeting new people, Annie is still slightly shy at first, but warms up quickly and shows a lovely and playful nature. He estimates her to be roughly 18 months old and now that she has gained some weight and is healthy, she’s ready to find a home, which Dr. Erasmus and his team will find for her.
It’s incredible to realise how only two strangers motivated a whole team to come to the rescue! With that spirit, we’re hopeful that Annie will find a furever home with a loving owner or family.