Cape Town resident Shaygam Newman has won the renowned international Brian Davies Award hosted annually by Network for Animals (NFA). The award, given to heroes who take care of animals in difficult situations or dangerous environments, honours people who often risk their own safety and selflessly give their own resources, but get no recognition otherwise.
After growing up in an abusive home, Newman’s only friendship and comfort was from street dogs. He decided to do something in return, and so started his informal caretaking station in the impoverished community of Hangberg near Hout Bay.
Here, Newman and his co-workers who call themselves “Shaygam’s Crew” feed, care for and monitor local homeless dogs without getting paid at all. He and his “crew” patrol the surrounds daily to check on the dogs.
“Caring for animals is all I know. They are my priority,” Newman said to News24.
Since he does not have a car, Newman would carry dogs that need medical care he cannot provide on foot to a friendly vet several kilometres away for help. To pay for dog food and other necessities, he makes dog leashes that he sells at a market in town. By now, he is a respected figure in the community and even teaches others how to properly care for dogs.
“He works in a difficult and dangerous place with little money and minimal resources, yet he has been instrumental in caring for and changing the lives of street dogs,” said NFA’s co-founder Gloria Davies to Africa.com.
Newman received $10,000 (R148,000) in prize money, which he says he will use to build proper enclosures at his station, among other things.
Listen to a podcast of his story on NFA’s website.
Picture: Facebook/Shaygam Newman