From abandoned to ambassador: that’s the delightful tale of Humphrey Immerman, a dog that became a dog in a million in 2021 after raising R1 million for the Durban & Coast SPCA.
Now, he’s even getting his own statue.
After being abused and abandoned, Humphrey was adopted by uMhlanga resident and pharmacist Alwyn Immerman.
Immerman said Humphrey had been abandoned in the Phoenix area and was left unclaimed at the Durban & Coast SPCA in Springfield Park for seven weeks before he adopted him.
Immerman has always been a dog lover. After his dog died, he waited six months before going to the SPCA to adopt. That is when he met Humphrey.
“He had been very badly abused and was quiet and sad when I found him. He had been hit by a car and was scared of people, scared of other things.
"I just saw these big beautiful, brown eyes that I liked, and formed a connection.
“For the first three months, he just lay under a table and I used to sit and comfort him. It was obvious he had been abused in the past as he was scared to relieve himself and urinate,” said Immerman.
He and Humphrey embarked on a fundraising campaign to support the great work done by the SPCA in 2011 for Mandela Day.
“In 2011 I read a Mandela Day promotion asking people to donate time for the less fortunate, so I took him to work with me at uMhlanga Medisport Pharmacy, hoping to raise funds for blankets and a few tins of dog food for SPCA.
“10 years later Humphrey has raised R1m for animal charities,” said Immerman.
He described Humphrey as a beautiful, loving and generous dog, who brought out the best in people and who children loved.
“Humphrey is like an angel. He has this beautiful sense of calm and when everybody looks at him they start smiling and relax, he is a supportive friend and people love him,” he said.
He said that after hearing about Humphrey’s good deeds, one man who chose to remain anonymous walked in and offered to make a donation, and later donated R10 000 to his bank account.
“I thought he had made a mistake, so I phoned him to confirm.
“I phoned the SPCA and told them about this big donation, and they said they had run out of blankets two nights ago. So Humphrey ended up buying special thick blankets for the whole of KwaZulu-Natal SPCAs,” said Immerman.
Immerman said he organised the statue last year, with the help of uMhlanga Tourism Board, to honour Humphrey’s achievement and dedication to animals in need.
Humphrey’s statue features the Durban & Coast SPCA logo and a Zapper code, so passersby can send a quick and easy donation to the SPCA.
Humphrey continues to spread the word of the SPCA and raise funds from his owner's place of business, Medisport Pharmacy, uMhlanga, and his friends fight over who will have the honour of taking him on his daily walk along the uMhlanga promenade.
Durban & Coast SPCA marketing manager Tanya Fleischer said: “Humphrey has had a wonderful impact on our SPCA. Not only does he continue to provide food and monetary assistance, he continues to spread the word of what we do here, meaning his donations reach far beyond the R1m raised. Humphrey spreads love and joy to everyone he meets, and his positive impact is priceless.”
Immerman said he was proud of the statue because it would forever mark Humphrey’s territory as a dog in a million for the SPCA.
“It is a wonderful and fantastic thing; it is also good for the SPCA and Umhlanga’s image,” he said.
The official unveiling of the statue will take place on January 24 at 2pm on the promenade outside Cabanas Beach Resort.
For donations you can go to http://www.spcadbn.org.za/donate.php
The Independent on Saturday