Happiness is a warm puppy, according to Charles M Schulz, creator of comic strip Peanuts. That’s what drove dancer, choreographer and teacher Brigitte Reeve-Taylor to launch Dancers Love Dogs, a non-profit organisation that gives 100% of its dance performance proceeds to sterilise dogs who are homeless or living in poor areas.
It all started in early 2012, when Reeve-Taylor was driving on the N2 highway near Cape Town’s airport in rush hour. “I spotted a puppy* in the emergency lane.
He was hobbling and clearly sick. I stopped and it took me almost an hour and a half to catch the poor mangy little guy who was utterly exhausted by the time I managed to put a collar on him.”
Her love for dogs is palpable. “I’ve rescued many, and donated lots of money, but this time I knew I had to do something more. There is a huge need for sterilisation in this country, but the costs are high — around R1 700 per dog. All I could do was put my time, talents and connections to work.”
She contacted Artscape and, using her network, negotiated a reduced rate for the use of the theatre. Next, she called her contacts in the dance world and asked them to put a show together.
For teachers and studio owners the appeal was that they could seldom afford a venue like the Artscape Theatre to showcase their students’ talents. She also called her friends in animal welfare who agreed on a rate of R250 per sterilisation. By this stage, many generous people were donating give-aways like meals at Cape Town’s most swanky hotels and restaurants.
“I decided to charge audiences R250 a seat, which would give them a chance to see a great show, perhaps win a prize and, most importantly, sterilise a dog and help to reduce terrible suffering.”
That first performance was held in May 2012 and raised R130 000, all of which was used for the animals. Similar shows were held in Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria. In May this year, Reeve-Taylor took things up a notch and convinced Artscape to give her the 1 400-seater Opera House for a night.
“We made R275 000 that evening. In total, we have raised R600 000 this year and we’ve had more than 2 000 dogs sterilised. It’s a winning combination of amazing dancing, prestigious venues and a cause that people want to support.”
- Player: Brigitte Reeve-Taylor
- Company: Dancers Love Dogs
- Passion: Using her available talents to help rescue dogs.
- Contact: dancerslovedogs.weebly.com ;+27 (0)82 707 1110
What it takes
- Think about your skills: What do you have to offer?
- Who is in your network that will give a bit of time to a great cause?
- Choose a cause. It needs to be something you’re passionate about — people respond to passion, so if you care, they’ll care.
Amy Kleinhans-Curd on Keeping Things Personal. Read the interview here.