The first time I met KSPCA Field Officer Paul Mufunyi was in response to a call I had made, requesting that KSPCA collect what I thought to be a stray dog I often saw roaming the streets. What should have been a simple rescue instead led us on a wild goose chase and ended in a compound where six terrified, half-starved, and chained dogs lived in appalling conditions in one of Nairobi’s wealthiest neighborhoods. As I gaped in horror and struggled to maintain my composure at the misery that lay before us, Paul planted a big smile on his face and did what he does best – rescuing animals.
Appearing completely unfazed by the situation, Paul treated the property owner with utmost dignity and respect. He helped ease the tension by laughing and joking around yet, all the while, gently persuading the owner to at least surrender the dogs that required medical attention. Paul would later follow up with the owner, educating him on the proper care of his animals and ensuring that major improvements were made in the diet and living conditions of the dogs that remained in his care.
The experience haunted me for months and chipped away at my faith in humanity. Yet, it also left a lasting impression on me in other ways. It made me recognize that the work of a KSPCA Field Officer is much more challenging than meets the eye, requiring incredible emotional resilience, grit, diplomacy, and powers of persuasion. But more than anything, I was left with a deep sense of admiration for Paul and the incredibly difficult and often heartbreaking work that KSPCA carries out on a daily basis.
From the time he can first remember, Paul has always had an affinity for animals. He shares his passion with his father who, incidentally, also used to work for KSPCA. “When I was a child, the neighbors would really tease my father,” Paul laughs. “Every year he would walk an hour each way to the nearest town to have our dogs vaccinated. The neighbors thought it was the craziest thing – to vaccinate a dog!”
Paul’s first animal rescue was as a 14-year-old boy when he found an abandoned puppy stuffed inside a plastic bag. He brought the pup home and, after nursing it back to health, pleaded with his grandmother to allow him to keep it. Initially against the idea, she finally relented but made him solemnly swear that he would take full responsibility for the dog’s care. Paul did just that and adored his little dog, only to be left heartbroken several years later when a neighbor, who felt the dog to be a nuisance, decided to poison it.
Paul began his career with KSPCA 12 years ago, initially as a Dog Handler, which had him cleaning out kennels, feeding animals and providing general care. His natural gift with animals was recognized early on when an aggressive and unadoptable rescue dog was slated to be euthanized. Paul took it upon himself to work with the dog, gaining his trust and slowly changing his behavior, ultimately saving the dog’s life.
Rising through the KSPCA ranks, Paul was promoted to the Field Officer position two years ago. As a Field Officer, he is responsible for rescuing animals and, more importantly, educating the public on animal care and rescue response. “Creating an awareness of KSPCA and our work within communities is vital to the protection of animals. For instance, a shopkeeper with a sick or injured dog at his doorstep will often pay for the disposal of the animal however they see fit. However, those familiar with KSPCA are much more inclined to call us instead.” Paul explains, “I use every rescue as an opportunity to educate and build awareness in the community.”
Life as a KSPCA Field Officer is not without its risks. Paul nearly lost an eye once after intervening in a brutal donkey beating, only for the owner to turn his stick on Paul instead. One of his more unique, high-risk rescues was that of a warthog which had been hit by a car. By the time Paul arrived, the traumatized animal had wedged itself into a narrow sewage pipe and collapsed. Notwithstanding the risk of being impaled by an injured and highly unpredictable warthog, Paul also squeezed himself into the pipe so that he could throw a net around the warthog and pull him out.
Paul has had to develop a thick skin throughout his years of working at KSPCA. He has pretty much seen it all, yet every now and then he still comes across a case that shakes him to the core and reduces him to tears. “But, at the end of the day,” he says, “it’s all about perspective. I can focus on all the cruelty and suffering, but instead I choose to focus on the respite and hope that my work with KSPCA gives to so many animals. Without KSPCA, none of these animals would stand a chance.”
As for his one wish for KSPCA, Paul would like to witness more permanent and consistent financial support flowing through their doors. “There are so many projects we would like to pursue but without a clear picture of what tomorrow holds for us, we are limited to focusing on our most urgent priorities only.”