Africa-Press – South-Africa. Armed with a book, chair, and her sun hat, this Gauteng LLB graduate and aspiring environmental lawyer sets aside time every day to voluntarily sing and read to more than 70 animals at the Benoni Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).
Luvania Govender, 24, is in the process of finding a law firm to complete her articles before qualifying as a lawyer, but in the meantime, she’s entertaining the animals one book and song at a time. Her love for animals and volunteering at the SPCA stems from when she was a young schoolgirl – when she would donate and bring food to the organisation with her parents.
“I’ve always wanted to spend more time with the animals, but while pursuing my law degree, this proved to be rather difficult at times,” she said.
Govender recalls that last year, when she completed her studies, she decided to use her spare time to go and help out at the SPCA.
“I enjoy doing it and, judging by how the animals react to my reading and singing, I’d say they are pretty happy I’ve taken on this exciting journey.”
She recalls the first day she arrived at the SPCA. Dogs would be barking and jumping against the kennels as they could sense she was a “stranger” to them, but this quickly grew into a relationship between Govender and the many animals kept at the organisation.
“I started to let them warm up to me by giving them little treats while I talked to them. It took a while for some of them to warm up to me, but over time, I was able to bond with them and gain a better understanding of their unique temperaments.”
Govender says her daily routine when she arrives at the SPCA is to visit the smaller dog breeds first, then move on to the larger dog breeds, and end at the cat adoptions section.
The books she chooses to read to the animals are penned by well-known children’s author Roald Dahl. And, according to Govender, the animals seem to have taken a liking to them, becoming calmer and more relaxed.
“I find that reading, and occasionally singing, has a calming effect on the animals. The daily engagement also helps to socialise the animals that have grown to mistrust humans.
‘What she does is wonderful’
“Sometimes, I am confused and nervous when new animals arrive at the organisation since they are not too familiar with me yet. That’s okay because I continue to do what I enjoy doing for the animals, and over time, the new ones get used to me too,” a beaming Govender adds.
SPCA spokesperson Diane Wooldridge said they had about 70 animals in their care.
“We feel very fortunate and blessed that Luvania chose our society and is happy to sit with our animals and use her time to read and sing to them. The animals in any shelter want human contact and attention, so what [she] does is wonderful,” Wooldridge said.
“It is a very innovative idea, and we enjoy seeing her sitting in front of the kennels, singing or reading to the animals.”
The SPCA said a local company had recently sponsored a music centre for the organisation.
“We use it to play music to the dogs, which does calm them down, and they lie peacefully in their kennels listening to the beautiful sounds. We look forward to seeing Luvania as much as our animals do.”
For Govender, her love for keeping the animals entertained will continue for as long as possible.
“I think that once I am employed, I’d have to limit my volunteering to weekends, but either way, the animals will not be rid of me and my voice anytime soon.”