Pepper the anti-poaching dog and her dad Adrian Wilkins, stopped by at the Adorabulls Rescue And Rehabilitation Centre recently. The two are helping less fortunate bull terriers find their forever homes by showing their support for the rescue centre. Pepper and Adrian patrol private game reserves within the Greater Kruger Park area, helping to keep wildlife safe.
In a wonderful link up, Pepper is paying it forward as she comes from of Shodan, and Bennie and his wife Tania, along with Dania Skone, founded Adorabull Rescue And Rehabilitation Centre in Meyerton, Gauteng.
The centre, based in Meyerton, is home to abandoned and surrendered dogs, some of whom come from terrible circumstances. Some are permanent residents, while others wait, hoping for their forever homes. We chatted to Adrian about how he, his wife and Pepper came to support the centre:
“My wife is a dog lover and always follows these pages on Facebook and came across the Adorabull page. She decided to do a virtual adoption of some of the dogs and we now have about four or five dogs we support. In the process of liaising with them, she mentioned Pepper, our tracking anti poaching dog. Adorabull asked me to do a write up on Pepper. I did that and people were very interested and asked for a Facebook page to be set up for Pepper. So I set one up, and then followers said, ‘You’re doing such amazing work, how can we contribute?’
So although this wasn’t a fundraising initiative, and because I’m busy, often out in the field where I don’t have cellphone reception etc, I felt bad because people kept on offering funds. People were very determined!
“So it was difficult because I wanted to get a proper audit trail in place. Because I’ve seen where funding has come in other situations and suddenly the handler’s got a fancy pair of sunglasses and fancy boots. So I wanted it set up so it’s at arms length, nothing to do with me. I started to look into crowdfunding, which is not as straightforward as it sounds. Fortunately, Wendy from Adorabulls is coming on board, cos she’s quite good at this. And then people are just so generous. People have made knitted a replica of Pepper and a pattern. So we could sell the pattern, but how does one administer that? I’ve just got offered a painting, a man whose father is a good wildlife painter is going to do a painting. So generous. Perhaps put it up for auction, but again how does one handle the funds? So Wendy knows how to do that.
“And all this came from seeing the Adorabulls website and saying, ‘Well, there are some dogs in need, we can’t adopt them but we can support them virtually adopt them’. And it just grew from there, and took on a life of its own.
“People are fascinated, dog lovers anyway, bull terrier owners are like Landrover owners – it’s like a club! And the fact that Pepper does this work is interesting for people and also there’s a pride. Usually people say, ‘Oh you own a bull terrier, they’re so vicious and so stupid. They can’t do anything other than tear a tyre to shreds’. So apart from the love of the breed, there’s a pride in it. This dog I have, look what they are capable of . So it gives encouragement and pride in that sense as well. And that’s how we came to support them!”
Adrian while keen to promote the versatile and less known good qualities of bull terriers, cautions people against simply purchasing bull terriers or backyard breeding them because they think the dog will automatically be another Pepper. He says both he and breeder Bennie van Niekerk of Shodan Bellakarma, where Pepper was born, take their roles very seriously and do not approve any kind of irresponsible breeding or purchasing of bull terriers where the dogs simply end up being surrendered. This happens all too often when a breed of dog is popularised for instance in a film, and people buy the breed without doing any research into that breed’s particular character traits. Too many of these kind of purchases end up with the dog being surrendered to a rescue or abandoned.
“The story is about the dog, we continue to generate interest for her and the breed. But Bennie and I are in a very tricky position. If people see Pepper, and think this is wonderful. We’ve seen it before with Staffies and Rottweilers all become the fad dogs and everyone rushes out and gets one. Bennie for a fact is very strict before you can get a dog from him. But most people aren’t. So all we going to have is backyard breeders who are going to be sending out dogs like this who are going to be a disaster and end up here as rescues and also giving the breed a bad name.
“In terms of Shodan we’re particular how we do things. I’ve got security issues and responsibilities and so has Bennie. So we have to be very particular, otherwise we could do the breed a huge disservice. You have got to think the end game out. You can think it’s a great story but it can have a bad ending.
“There’s nothing new as I’ve said before that these dogs can rumble, there’s nothing clever about trying to prove that. My aim is to show they have to be gentle and calm. I don’t need to bring out the aggression. They know if stuff goes down, they know what to do. So there’s a good news story but there’s a huge responsibilities on the breeder and the handler.
“We can help here and there, but we’re not naive. This is much bigger than any one person or any one breed or any one dog.
Pay It Forward
For info on how you can adopt or help support Adorabulls go to Adorabull Rescue & Rehabilitation or contact founder & behaviorist: Dania Skone: 072 183 7850, [email protected] and Adoptions / Fostering: Lorraine Swart: 076 952 5631 or e-mail: [email protected]
Adrian is also trying to raise funds for a powerful night vision scope to enable him to see at a distance at night to help keep wildlife safe. For more info go to: Pepper On Patrol