The Underdog Project

The Underdog Project

Pure Trade Africa’s Corporate Philanthropy Programme

As our company grows, so does our responsibility to give back to the people, communities and organisations which have taken it upon themselves to bring about positive change in society.

As part of our commitment to honest and responsible business, each staff member was given the opportunity to nominate a charity to whom Pure Trade Africa would donate, on their behalf.

For the month of March 2021, our focus fell to The Underdog Project which was nominated by our Logistics Co-Ordinator, Lloyd Rennie.

Why The Underdog Project?

When asked about why he nominated The Underdog Project, Lloyd wrote:

“I’d never really looked much into charities before so when this opportunity came up, I didn’t really know where to begin. In searching for an organisation, I wanted to find a charity that worked with dogs, as I have an affinity towards them. I came across The Underdog Project and their program is something that really resonated with me.

Being able to provide shelter dogs with the love and attention they deserve as well as helping them become more acclimatised to normality will help them find homes. All dogs are selfless and loving and just need the right home to show that, they don’t deserve to be stuck in a shelter and I feel strongly about that. Additionally, with the help of these dogs, TUP looks to teach empathy and responsibility to vulnerable children. Both important tools to master as a human being.

Caring and looking after a dog teaches that for all the joy they can bring, they are also a responsibility to look after and that the two go hand in hand. Whatever you value you need to look after. In certain cases, these interactions can also be used as a form of therapy whereby a child who may have or still is experiencing something traumatic might find some comfort or release through these interactions.

Through my own experiences, I appreciate the sentiment and understand the importance of finding some kind of outlet which works for you to cope with trauma. For both dogs and children, they don’t ask to be put in these kinds of situations and I think it’s fantastic that an organisation like this is giving them a chance to give them some respite from their realities and ultimately give them the skills we take for granted but might help them shape their own futures.

What is The Underdog Project?*

“The Underdog Project works with at-risk youth, using animal-assisted interventions to help them overcome the social and emotional issues associated with early trauma.

We provide a safe and caring environment where supportive adult role models can teach positive interpersonal skills such as empathy, trust and personal accountability through the training of shelter dogs.  In so doing, our programme is mutually beneficial to two vulnerable groups, positively impacting the lives of at-risk youths whilst socialising and training shelter dogs to improve their chances of adoption.”

The Underdog Project Programmes*

  1. The Underdog Youth Builder

Our flagship programme provides life skills training and therapeutic animal interactions for at-risk youths. This is facilitated as weekly, two-hour sessions with closed groups of between six and eight youths at our facility in Hout Bay.

Currently, we host groups at Hout Bay High School, Silikamva High School, Ottery Youth Care Centre, Brightstart and the Tenterden Positive Behaviour Outreach Programme.

  1. Underdog Connector

Through this programme, a regular weekly session is facilitated with past graduates of The Underdog Project who have chosen to stay on as ambassadors of animal kindness. Goal setting, career guidance and support, such as instruction in CV writing, are just some of the topics covered during these sessions.

The youths continue to work with shelter dogs as this positive interaction still serves as a form of non-invasive therapy, helping them develop better life skills and coping mechanisms.

  1. Underdog Outreach

The outreach project allows The Underdog Project to work remotely in new communities through partnerships with other like-minded organisations, broadening the organisation’s reach and impact.

This includes working in the De Doorns, alongside Sidewalk Specials and FourPaws, as well as partnering with Dassenberg Horse and Dog Rescue Centre in Atlantis to provide sessions for youths from Elsies Rivier.

Recently, we secured a partnership with the Cape of Good Hope SPCA through which a programme will be run for youths in the surrounding Cape Flats communities.

  1. Underdog Kids Club

We run monthly workshops with groups of children, teaching them how to care for and be kind to animals. In addition, we facilitate positive animal interactions and activities in these workshops and organise animal-related outings, visiting animal sanctuaries or shelters. We teach children to become Animal Kindness Ambassadors in their communities or schools, creating a ripple effect of kindness and personal responsibility.

The Underdog Project is a registered Non – Profit Organisation and thus, any contributions to the Foundation are tax-deductible. To support the Project, or to find out more about the work they do, visit The Underdog Project website or contact Nina, via

*Content provided by The Underdog Project.  

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