From Elandskraal to Plettenberg Bay, and beyond, 7 June 2017 will be a date forever etched in the hearts and minds of many along the Garden Route. It was on this warm and windy day that one of the most damaging fires in the history of South Africa “took flight”, scorching and consuming all that fell in its path. For days and weeks, local communities, along with thousands who came to their assistance, banded together to save homes and lives. There is not a single person who does not have a story to tell. This is ours...
It was about 10am on Wednesday, 7th June and client Anton Du Plessis, from Elandskraal, arrived at the clinic in a panic, looking for medication for his epileptic dog. He told us that his farm and house had burned down in a flash, and that he barely got out in time with his wife Anita and their three dogs. He was very worried, as he could not locate his best friend and neighbor, Tony, and his family. He could not get anywhere close to their farm either. He said it was “like Armageddon out there”, the flames leaping so high and spreading so fast.
Very soon after Anton left the clinic, there was a heavy smell of smoke in the air. Where weather bureaus had issued warnings of high winds and floods throughout the Western Cape, we had been sent fire – and with it, a sense of unease. With such high winds, fire fighters would have a tough job on their hands.
Social media was abuzz with talk of the large fire in Elandskraal. The Simply Vets team sprang into action to assist clients and their animals, under threat of smoke and fire. By lunchtime, the surgery was temporary home to approximately 70 poodles, ranging from old age to puppies, along with their owner, Lorraine Davoren of Waylor Poodles. By late afternoon, the Rademeyers’ cats, Tokyo and Gus, had joined our “refugee camp”, with their home, Essendale Farm, ablaze. Then, further cats and dogs started to stream in, with owners having evacuated their homes and having nowhere safe for their animals to go.
The intense and seemingly endless stream of activity that followed during the next few days can only be described as a rollercoaster of emotion and exhaustion - for our team, along with many other veterinary practices in the area. Patients, both domestic and wild, were treated for burns, injuries, smoke inhalation, sore red eyes and stress – and amidst all this, when the fire and smoke threatened Sedgefield on the Saturday, Dr Anuska had to evacuate her own home and animals, along with all the animals taking refuge at the practice.
A double evacuation!
Veterinarian Dr Daleen Erasmus of George was an absolute saint and kindly took in many of our “refugees”. The animals were obviously confused, most of them having been evacuated twice and surrounded by strangers – but they were treated for stress, and safe, until it was deemed safe to return to the practice the following day.
Simply Natural products go to work
With the Simply Vets team hard at work, healing and helping wherever they could, Simply Natural products were also hard at work, out in the field! Wayne Davoran (co-owner of the poodles – two of whom graced us with brand new litters, birthed at the practice in the makeshift maternity ward and temporary bedroom for Lorraine) was at the forefront of the firefighting in the Elandskraal area. Dr Anuska sent with him a first aid care pack of Simply Natural Burn and Sting Cream, as well as homeopathic smoke inhalation drops and eye drops for the sore, red, swollen and burning eyes, that all at the forefront were experiencing.
Wayne speaks very highly of the products, which helped him and the other fire fighters. “The products really helped,” he says. “For our eyes and to keep our chests clear. The burn and sting cream was really great for burns, even taking away the pain.”
We’re just so grateful that we were able to help!
Cody “the Brave”
It is nearly four months since the fires and we are still helping patients affected by stress and injury. One of them, the “celebrity” pony Cody of Essendale Farm, has been through so much – and yet, through sheer determination, along with ongoing care, has gone from strength to strength. Cody’s face was badly burnt and his body singed. The fire had come upon his home, and later, his intended refuge, with such force and speed, that he had been most likely been forced to run through the fire to escape it.
As searches for Cody and his pony friends continued, over thousands of hectares of land, Cody found his own way home, 16 days after the fire. With his tongue and lips burnt, he struggled to eat at first, but this was quickly remedied with the appropriate pain management.
Apart from the burns, he appeared sound, and his owner, Karen Rademeyer, had no doubt that, if they provided the right amount of care, they could help him through his ordeal. He clearly wanted to survive and he was therefore given the chance to do so. Intense treatment commenced and with the help of a team of several veterinarians, from various practices, Cody’s progress has been inspiring.
Karen called upon Dr Anuska for a high-quality vitamin E powder, to mix into his food, and the practice was able to assist with this immediately. When a solution was needed to make Cody’s skin less “angry” and inflamed – something that would accelerate the healing, be easy to apply, be easily absorbed, help to soothe, and take away the inflammation, Karen says Dr Anuska appeared at her side like an angel from heaven, with the Simply Natural Burn and Sting Cream in hand!
“His skin was less inflamed within minutes, and he relaxed into the application. What a blessing and a relief for both of us!” says Karen.
Dr Anuska also made up a liquid Herbal remedy to treat the wounds topically, but with Cody being super sensitive to liquids on his skin, they simply gave it to him internally instead. “We always find a way and we work with what we have,” says Dr Anuska.
Cody’s skin is healing up beautifully, but he is still unable to close his eyes properly, making him prone to corneal ulceration. He has also become very wary of having drops put in his eyes. Dr Anuska has therefore made up a special Homeopathic mix that can be taken internally, to help with this.
It is an honour to be a part of beautiful Cody’s healing. We shall continue to monitor his progress and will be sure to bring you more updates on this very brave soul.