Dr Renee van Rheede has a veterinary practice in a small mining village, Cullinan (Cullinan Animal Hospital) in South Africa. In 2007 there was a rabies scare in the Cullinan area. van Rheede learned of the plight of animals in the poorer community of Onverwacht just outside Cullinan through a staff member. They had no veterinarian to help them with rabies vaccines. van Rheede promptly arranged a vaccination campaign, liaised with the state vet and vaccinated Onverwacht animals.
During the vaccination campaign, van Rheede realised that the community and the animals are in desperate need of veterinary assistance. She then arranged a meeting with the head master and teachers at the Onverwacht School. In this meeting the education of the children in basic pet care was highlighted. This is where the corner stones of all future work were laid.
She realised to successfully change the plight of these animals she would have to:
1) Short Term: Provide basic veterinary care
2) Long Term: Educate the people in basic pet care ( Humane Education)
Out of the above a CHANGE took place in the community of Onverwacht as children we educated to be responsible pet owners. 9 years later, this community has developed and despite poverty still visible, more and more of the pet owners are now forming part of van Rheede’s private practice client base.
Due to growth in operations and requests by more and more communities pleading for veterinary assistance, van Rheede realised that she needed financial assistance and more veterinarians to assist her. She duly Registered as Optima Community Veterinary Clinic, a branch of South African Veterinary Association NGO.
2014 saw the birth of Vets For Change South Africa, van Rheede was one of 3 start up directors. The following year saw the pioneering work of Vets For Change South Africa with Optima CVC NGO as partner, Welttiershutzgesellschaft e.V Germany as Main Sponsor and van Rheede as Principle veterinarian for the projects. In 2016, It was time to formalise the concept and CVSSA was born and registered with Registrar of Companies in South Africa. The CVS-SA’s main sponsor remains Welttierschutzgesellschaft e.V Germany. There has been a high demand for the CVS-SA team’s outreach projects all across Southern Africa.