Love My Bay chats to Kathryn Schmelzer from Animal Welfare Society

Kathryn Schmelzer from Animal Welfare Society

The Animal Welfare Society Port Elizabeth (AWS PE) was established in 1971 and is an open shelter which provides assistance to the many vulnerable animals living in the Nelson Mandela Bay area.  Located in 10th Avenue Walmer, they provide a 24-hour service to deal with the many cases of cruelty, neglect and abuse as well as assisting with abandoned, stray and injured animals reported by the public.

They also offer temporary safe shelter for lost animals, happily reuniting them with their owners – something made obviously easier if pets are microchipped – another service they provide.  They also extend veterinary services to the disadvantaged in the community and run a bi-weekly Community Outreach Programme in the Walmer Township. This includes sterilisation, vaccination, dipping and emergency veterinary and basic surgery services. Animal Welfare Society also provides cremation services for beloved pets who pass away at home.

Love My Bay had the privilege to sit and chat with Adoption Specialist Kathryn Schmelzer this week. Kathryn has been an intricate part of Animal Welfare Society since 2013 and we are excited to be able to showcase just how much they mean to our furry companions.

LMB: I know you started your career in teaching, something you did for quite a few years. What made you decide to leave the profession and instead start to work as an employee at Animal Welfare Society?

KS: Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed teaching young adults as a highschool teacher. Despite my passion for my teaching career, after volunteering at  Animal Welfare Society Port Elizabeth for many years,  I realised that my true calling and passion was to work with animals full time.

Animal Welfare needed an Adoption Specialist to work with the Animals and assist families in the process of Adoption. So I jumped at the opportunity and haven’t looked back since. I truly have a passion for animals and their welfare and love the work I do everyday. 

LMB: Since you started working there full time in 2013, what positive changes have you seen happening at AWS in terms of the amount of volunteers? 

KS: We have an amazing group of volunteers that have joined sporadically over the years and offered valuable time, attention and assistance. We also have dedicated trained volunteers who have been part of the Animal Welfare Society for years.

They assist with walking schedules and spending time with our animals daily. Saturdays we have beach walk days and our amazing beach walking group take our shelter dogs out in the mornings. We value our volunteers for all the time they spend with our shelter animals and we know the animals do too.

LMB: Social Media hopefully has made a difference as well for Animal Welfare Society in terms of the sharing of posts, fundraisers etc. Have you seen an increase in adoptions through social media coverage? 

KS: Social media has absolutely helped our animals get great exposure and find their forever homes. Adoptions have definitely increased, public awareness has increased and we have more people reaching out to adopt as opposed to supporting back yard breeders through our online presence and pet education.

Our facebook and Instagram page have also helped us communicate with our followers and supporters. Not only does social media help us rehome our animals, it helps us reunite pets with their owners and keep the public updated with the work that we do, how they can assist and fundraiser events they can participate in.

LMB: We have been having one of the coldest winters this year. What challenges do you face at AWS when the temperatures drop so suddenly and the kennels are full? Can people drop off any blanket donations etc directly at AWS or do you have blanket drives we can share? 

KS: Yes. We always are needing blankets and during winter the need does increase drastically. We are so grateful to everyone who donates as it makes such a huge difference to the animals. Not only for warmth but for a feeling of comfort. Blankets can be dropped off at the shelter directly or at our Charity shop in Albert Road, Walmer. We also accept any donations of pet jerseys no longer being used. 

LMB: Does AWS receive any assistance or grants from the government or do you rely strictly on fundraising and donations to keep the shelter habitable?

KS: Animal Welfare Society PE is a registered Non-Profit Organisation (NPO 003-538) and Public Benefit Organisation (PBO 930000971). We rely entirely on the public to keep the shelter going and unfortunately receive no financial assistance from the government. We run various fundraising drives to help with raising money and our volunteers, donations from the public and sponsors definitely make a valuable difference as well.

LMB: Volunteers can come assist with walking the dogs, socialising with cats and donkeys and assisting possible adoptive parents finding their future family member. Where else are people able to volunteer their services? 

We have been blessed with volunteers in all aspects over the years. Not only by interacting with the animals but also children, who decide to request dog or cat food to donate instead of birthday presents and of course all the valued entities which partake in our fundraising events.

Volunteers are always needed and encouraged. People can enroll in our shelter volunteer program, if they would like to volunteer at the shelter or help with arranging a fundraiser or collection for the society. Contact to get more information on how you can help.

LMB: I know that home visits are important. Does AWS still have this protocol in place or can people walk in and adopt same day?

Home checks are done for every animal that receives an application. Once an application is completed our inspector will make an appointment to visit the family and ensure that their property and home is suitable for the animal they have applied for. Home Checks are so important to ensure the safety of our animals so unfortunately we do not offer same day adoptions. However we can do a home check in advance if necessary.

LMB: Fundraising is important for an organisation that does so much for those who can’t speak for themselves – Do you have specific places that fundraise on your behalf or is this something you have to organise yourselves?

KS: We are very lucky and grateful to various businesses and schools who host events and fundraisers for Animal Welfare. We also do have a full time annual fundraiser who works tirelessly to raise ever growing funding for the organization. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend the events, whether it be music trivia, a show or a raffle. We appreciate it all. 

LMB: Sometimes long term adoption isn’t an option for someone, but fostering is. Do you have any advice for someone wanting to foster a dog or cat not coping with kennel life? How can they apply, any groups they can join etc?

Unfortunately we do not offer a fostering program as once animals enter the shelter they are in our care so we rehome our animals directly. However there are many wonderful fostering programs available for all animals in Port Elizabeth and we encourage people to get involved there as much as possible as well.

LMB: What is your personal vision for AWS in the next 5 years? Any changes you hope to see happening and how can the public get involved? 

KS: I hope In 5 years time we will have empty cages and less homeless animals needing homes. I hope to see more families adopting and visiting Animal Welfare Society. I  also want to encourage the public to be responsible pet owners by sterilizing any pets above 6 months of age to prevent unwanted breeding.

I also hope families will make sure they are fully committed when deciding to adopt. A pet is a family member and a long term commitment. Our animals deserve a happy home and family especially after shelter life. PLEASE ADOPT DON’T SHOP! Don’t buy a kitten or puppy until you have come to see the amazing animals in our care! Animal Welfare Society have all breeds needing loving homes and more importantly needing a second chance.

Adoption saves their lives and adds immeasurable value to yours! 

Anyone interested in adopting can email or call 041 366 1660 to make an appointment.

Find out more about the Animal Welfare Society PE

Available for Adoption:

Mr Grey is a very distinguished and easy going gentleman. He’s a real lover of laps and cuddles, and just the sweetest boy. He’s about 5 years old and neutered. Please email to make an appointment to meet him. Adoption fee: R500, includes up to date vaccinations and microchip. AWS194S

Sophia is a sweet and loving tabby girl kitty, who loves to have naps in the sun. She’s about 3 years old and spayed. She’s lived with other cats. Please email to meet her. Adoption fee: R500, includes up to date vaccinations and microchip. AWS248C

Midnight is a stunning all black boy, he loves to play and is very busy, so he’d suit a home with a large garden and lots of space. He’s about 8 months old, neutered and fine with other kitties. Please email to meet him. Adoption fee: R500, includes up to date vaccinations and microchip. AWS229C

Shelly is a very easy going, sweet tortie kitty, who loves to have naps in the sun. She’s about 4 years old. Please email to meet her. Adoption fee: R500, includes sterilisation, up to date vaccinations and microchip. AWS172S

Chai is a beautiful ginger and white girl. She’s about 5 years old, very easy going and would suit as an only kitty. Please email to meet her. Adoption fee: R500, includes sterilisation, up to date vaccinations and microchip. AWS208C

Alexa 286D – 18 months old. Very affectionate and loves her walks. Alexa is best as an only dog.

Cassidy 228G – 2 years old. This gorgeous girl loves to play and will need a companion she can play with. Cassidy has lived with children.

Nandi 28110 – 3 years old. Nandi would be best as an only pet. She is a gentle girl who will need an understanding owner.

Tim 242D and Thomas 243D. These boys are brothers and a year of age. They are social with other dogs. They can be rehomed together or to families with other pets.

Jenn (032D) was surrendered to AWS in January. Her owners moved into a property she did not cope in and she was surrendered to us for responsible rehoming. Jenn is a year of age. She has lived with children.  She will need a secure property, she has the potential to jump if she’s bored or lonely. Jenn will need friends to play with in her new home and training, she’s learning quickly.

Scotch 253D – This handsome boy is 2 years old. He shares his kennel with Cassidy and they love to play. Scotch is playful and active, he needs an owner who will exercise him. We love his sweet nature.

Guiness 280G – 2 years old and was so Picked up in Walmer and never claimed. Guinness enjoys his walks, he is a very friendly boy and can’t wait to meet a new dog. He would love a female or social male to play with and a family that will exercise and take him on outings.

Trig 265D – He is a year and half years old and arrived at Aws as his owners could not take care of him anymore. Little Trig is a tiny terrier and he would love a home where he will be kept safe and pampered. He  would be best with a female companion.

Jadie 28005 – 4-5 years old, she walks well on a lead and would be the perfect cuddler and walking partner. Jadie would be best as an only dog.

Stitch 375G – 2 years. Stitch would suit a family with other dogs,preferably female. He will need some basic training, he can be excitable and boisterous, we love his nature. Stitch has been waiting at Animal Welfare for a year now. We hope his Forever home is on the way.

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