How one South African is making the biggest difference to those without voices

Judy Knox had no idea how a house burning down – with 2 dogs and 8 puppies inside – would change her world forever.


In a world that is generally becoming more and more obsessed with being money-driven and greed-focused, it’s become a habit for us to look at things through shades of black and white – it’s the easiest way to make sense of all the cruelty that happens around us.

But what do you do when you look at the world in shades of grey in the hopes of finding a burst of colour?

For ten four-legged fur angels, this must have been how Judy Knox came into their lives.

On Thursday, December 13, 2018, Judy – who heads the home based Marlands-based animal welfare organisation, Recycle-To-Rescue (R2R) – was on her way to R2R’s supporting vet, Witfield Animal Hospital, to fetch a kitten (Under R2R’s care) that had been attacked by dogs three days prior and was about to be discharged. That’s how it started. That one fateful trip, when Judy drove past a house in the suburb on the way to vet, and saw a commotion.

Deeming it as some sort of chaos that seemed to be under control, especially with emergency services on the scene, she went on her way, only to find out at the vet that a house in the area – the same one she drove past – had burnt down. As fate would have it, Judy had to drive past the same house again on her way back – only to now see dogs being carried out of the premises on fire.

Telling the kitten that all would be okay, and that she had to help, Judy stopped to offer assistance to the dogs.

“Animals don’t have a voice. Animal don’t understand the situation,” she often says when asked about her passion.

Approaching a bakkie where eight dogs were already sitting inside, another two were being carried out by paramedics. Everyone jumped to work together to save not just the now ten dogs, two adults and eight puppies, but the family as well. With Judy’s assistance, all of the dogs were taken to the vet – the same one she had visited earlier that day – to be treated for smoke inhalation. All stayed for two days.

Sadly, the “fire house” family lost everything – school supplies, utilities, Christmas presents, and, heartbreakingly so, their family nanny – Grace.

Grace had risked her life to save the family’s little girl of four years’ life. Sadly, Grace passed away after sustaining burns to 80% of her body.

Knowing that the family had enough to deal with, considering the loss of their home and a loved one, Judy promised to help look after the animals – it was the best she could do at that stage. Within a few days, the family of ten dogs got a foster Mom. Although this joy was short lived as three puppies ate some of the aloe plants in the foster Mom’s yard, and were poisoned.

Another rush to the vet, and all were okay.

Judy was given her own set of keys to the “fire house” premises to be able to assist. The R2R team bought kennels for the fur angels and had bedding donated for all of them. The yard was turned into a safer place for them all.

A few days later, one of Judy’s worst nightmares came to life. At first, only one puppy was not feeling well and rushed to the vet. But things soon took a turn for the worse.

“My team was phoning me and saying Judy, there is another one throwing up. No, wait, two, three, four, five,” she said.

All eight puppies were diagnosed with Parvo – which can be fatal to any dog, more so for puppies.

Upon admission to the vet, each puppy got a different colour collar to help identify them. Trudging through the heartache and pain, Judy visited the vet three times daily to see the puppies, to “give them kisses and to tell them to fight”.

Unfortunately, Little Miss Orange soon lost her fight and crossed the rainbow bridge.

And even though there were still another seven puppies fighting for their lives, Judy never forgot about the two adults – she still went to the “fire house” twice daily to feed the adults, who’s diet now consists of cooked rice and chicken which Judy cooks herself every day.

Soon, one by one, each puppy got discharged from the vet.

Sadly, Miss Black was rushed back to the vet owing to having picked up an infection. Mister Green soon joined his sister, as it became obvious that he had trouble swallowing. He will have to stay on soft foods and eat from a raised stand for the rest of his life.

With R2R’s vet bill amounting to over R32 000, as of January 10, Judy continues to fight for those who have no voice. Some of R2R’s other charges including getting lost animals back home safely, or helping rescued animals.

Brandy – another of R2R’s rescues – was mauled during the same period as the “fire house” dogs, adding extra worries and heartache to the R2R team. But they never lost hope, least of all Judy.

“Brandy stole my heart. But the fire house dogs stole my soul”.

Despite having a 09h00 to 17h00, Judy gets up every day and spends four hours in the mornings – from 05h00 to 09h00 – collecting glass, whether this means dumpster diving or cleaning up parks – Judy does it all. Why?

“These dogs didn’t ask to be on this earth. These dogs needed help. I couldn’t drive past not knowing whether they would be alright”.

Once all of the “fire house” puppies are 100% parvo-free, they will be vaccinated, dewormed and re-homed through The Animal Guardians, known as TAG.

R2R is an animal welfare organisation which collects glass from various drop off points – in areas including Marlands, Witfield, Primrose, Edenvale and Lambton – and collects on their own as well. This initiative, Judy explained, was born through the idea that in helping clean up the environment, it could be used to save those with no voice too.

In November 2018, R2R gathered 9741 kg of glass. In December, it decreased slightly, with only 8234 kg collected. Receiving only 50c per kg of glass, R2R only managed to get just under R9 000 for these two months’ collections. This is not even enough to make a dent in the ever growing mountain of a vet bill.

“Knowing that there are people out there willing to go through so much heart ache, so many tears, just to give a better life to animals… well, we need more people like them in the world.”

If one would like to donate to R2R’s vet bill, donations can be made to the Witfield Animal Hospital’s bank account.

Details are as follows:
Account Number: 020700652
Bank: Standard Bank
Reference: 12536 (R2R)

R2R also has it’s own Facebook page, of the same name, if one would like to follow their activities and rescue stories more closely.

Sources: Simone Liedtke
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Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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