Meet the Soshanguve animal lover who’s changing children’s attitudes toward dogs


Tebogo Maredi is hard at work encouraging the next generation of animal lovers


When Tebogo (32) lost his job as an operations manager in 2018, he moved to Soshanguve in Pretoria with his dog, Ellie.

Tebogo started off by trying to provide school clothes for children from poor households, and feeding and washing dogs in the community.

He began with five dogs, and now there are 204 dogs in the area benefitting from his educentre.

Education is a big part of his work, too.

“The children thought dogs were just there to guard us. I wanted to teach them that dogs need love too.”

He started inviting children to join him and Ellie and walking with their dogs.

Now, every Friday at 4pm, children gather outside his house with their dogs. Then they go for a walk, and they’re taught how to take better care of their furry friends. The pets are also treated to a wash.

Each child is given a bag of dog supplies, including dog food, collars, leashes, blankets and more.

“I could have just given the children dog food and collars, but I wanted to educate them. I wanted to help children understand these animals also have feelings.”

Up to 90 children between the ages of 6 and 16 attend the two kilometre walks on Fridays, and while they’re out, they look out for more children who own dogs to join the program.



Tebogo explains that he runs the educentre with his partner, Refilwe Mogomotsi, and a team of volunteers – Sam Mlambo, Carol Ncoko, and Zakhona Mudau, who also look after rescued animals.

“Whenever a dog has been abandoned or someone lost their job, we take care of that animal.”

Soon the dogs will be moved to a 2,4-hectare plot where an animal shelter will be built.

The organisation survives through donations from veterinarians, the SPCA and other dog lovers, who offer support by volunteering time and donating goods and money.

Recently, a generous donor gave them a washing machine which they use to wash the dogs’ blankets.

Tebogo adopted his first dog, Mandy, three years ago, but she passed away from parvovirus (cat flu). Ellie, a 15-year-old Boerboel, is his second dog.

Although in human years his dog would be considered much older than him, he thinks of Ellie as his daughter.

“She’s quite huge. She’s the one who made me love dogs more. When people first see her they’re scared of her because they think she bites, but then they find out she’s a very gentle soul. She loves children and belly rubs.”

Tebogo wants people to see dogs as companions, and not as guard dogs, and he encourages them to adopt dogs from shelters as there are many who need homes.

“Dogs love unconditionally. Dogs are loyal even to those that abuse them. I think it’s important for people to be cognisant of the fact that dogs feel pain like humans. They’re also living creatures.”

This article originally appeared in YOU Magazine and News24 HERE


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