SPCA hero, Kevin Khumalo walks his talk. After a day spent helping creatures in distress and advising people on how to take better care of their animals, he’d prefer not to sit down to a steak for supper. “It just hit me one day after observing cruelty to some cattle. I should be vegan. Every sentient being has value and should be treated with respect. How can anyone decide it is ok to eat a stew made of cow, but not of Labrador?”
Kevin is the Inspector for Mooi River & District SPCA and to say he is dedicated to his job is an understatement. He is on duty 24/7, often being called in the early hours to assist when a truck has overturned on the N3, or there is some other animal emergency. “I see horrible things, but it is always a relief when I can ensure that the animal’s suffering is over, or can make a real difference to the way an animal is treated. People are sometimes so careless, and uncaring.”
Kevin’s dedication and kindness do not go unnoticed in the community. When he needed donations for the annual 1000 Paws Walk for SPCA, a major fundraiser (supported by N3TC) for the Mooi River, Pietermaritzburg and Umngeni-Howick SPCAs, he just asked the community, and everyone helped. He ended up raising more money from Mooi River on his own than any previous collection efforts! This event is much loved on the Midlands calendar and Kevin’s own dogs Hunter, Hazel and Ozzie would love to attend, but he is just too busy helping to ensure that the event runs smoothly. “It’s pretty interesting, all types of dogs and their owners having such a happy time together. It is nice to see something other than cruelty.”
When Kevin moved to Mooi River in 2013, he began volunteering at the SPCA and soon become a valued member of staff. He attends to cruelty cases and inspections as far away as Bergville and Weenen, even though these areas are not officially part of the Mooi River & District territory that should reach from Estcourt to Balgowan. He organises outreaches to rural communities, educates people on their rights regarding dog hunting syndicates that invade their areas, helps at the Bruntville Dog Project on Saturday mornings, arranges Rabies vaccination days and gives talks to local schools. That is a busy schedule – particularly when you add in the sleepless Friday nights, when so many accidents happen on the country roads involving innocent animals.
Chairman of the Mooi River SPCA volunteer management committee, Gaynor Lawson, is thrilled to have a dynamic animal-mad man of action on board. “The SPCA cares for all animals, from fish and birds to livestock, wildlife and domestic pets. Kevin is passionate about them all. Whether he’s saving crocodiles that have fallen from a moving truck, loosening a duiker from a snare, pulling bogged-down cattle from wetlands, saving terrified locals from supposedly dangerous snakes or transporting dogs and cats to the vets for sterilisation, he is an integral part of the team from Mooi River SPCA,” she says.
At the SPCA kennels in Mooi River, the dogs awaiting adoption bounce with delight when Kevin enters their enclosures and offer him cuddles and licks to soothe the stressful parts of his important work. Children, farmers, road patrol teams, goats and cats are fortunate to have a man of Kevin’s calibre on their side.