Text by Jenni Davies
A love for animals is all around us, and this proudly South African website shares their heart-warming stories in order to improve the lives of our furry, feathered, and scaled friends.
Life-long animal lover Diane Ivings launched Happy Tails Magazine in 2015 as a glossy printed magazine designed to share Southern African animal stories and to shine a light on the many animal lovers who make a difference, as well as provide an accessible source for useful expert animal know-how.
Transforming Happy Tails
In 2016, Diane decided to transform Happy Tails Magazine from a printed magazine to a dynamic, paperless and highly entertaining website, www.happytailsmagazine.co.za. The online presence means that dozens of inspiring and informative South African animal-related articles, which are uploaded almost daily, can be enjoyed by people all over the world. Run by a “tiny but mighty” team of South African animal lovers, writers, designers and talented photographers, the website is edited by Diane herself, and driven by their 22,400 follower-strong Facebook page.
Diane, whose background is in magazine editing and publishing, says, “There is often so much negativity out there. People tend to doom scroll through social media, seeing horror stories and sadness, feeling powerless or confused as to what they can do or how to start helping. Many are put off adopting one of the thousands of animals because of negative press or are simply unsure of how to go about it. I saw a need for something enriching and motivating to fill the gap. With Happy Tails, I wanted to show that there are hundreds of amazing animal welfare organisations in our country, working tirelessly to create change for the animals and their people. To improve the profile of rescues (as animal welfares and adopted pets are often referred to) through entertaining and uplifting stories, so that people know the great work they do and are inspired to support them, be it through volunteering or donating, or by fostering or adopting a pet. I also wanted to use the platform to advocate for responsible animal care by sharing useful, trustworthy information. Ultimately, we wanted to bring joy into people’s lives with positive stories about animals. That is our guiding light and what we hope to keep doing.”
“It’s very important to me that people see these happily-ever-afters, that they experience a different side of animal welfare, and that they discover the beauty of shelter animals and the love they can bring.” This is something Diane knows all too well, considering that her Cape Town cottage is home to a pair of cheeky budgies, two laid-back cats, and a joyful big, brown mutt – all rescues. “They’re excellent co-workers and they keep us inspired!”
From its humble beginnings, Happy Tails Magazine has become immensely popular, with the website welcoming new visitors every month. “The feedback we get is that these stories make people’s day and cheer them up at stressful times,” says Diane when asked about Happy Tails’ success. “People are tired of bad news – they want to know that good things happen and, moreover, that they can be part of the change.”
Inside the cover
What kinds of animals can be found on Happy Tails’ virtual pages? “As many as possible,” laughs Diane. “We aim to include registered, reputable animal welfares from all over the country which care for any species of animals. So, if you’re into dogs and cats, or birds, horses, or wildlife, there’s something for you. Our advertisers, who are from all industries, not just pet products, are carefully selected as they have to align with our positive stance on animal welfare.”
The star attraction on the website is, of course, the “Happy Tales” section, which is overflowing with wonderful stories of animals whose lives were transformed for the better. Some of them can be a little sad, but, with the emphasis on positivity, the end goal is always to share the happy part of the tale. You’re sure to shed a good few happy tears. The fascinating “MuttMix” section is where readers who have checked their mixed-breed dogs’ DNA share the often astounding results. Informative health and behavioural features are written by veterinarians, animal behaviourists and trainers, journalists, and experienced animal welfare staff and volunteers. If you’re looking for an animal welfare organisation to support, there’s an entire section devoted to them, and readers are encouraged to contribute their own photos and stories of their adopted pets for the “Look at me NOW!” section. There’s even a “Made With Love” section to showcase advertisers’ products and items marketed by animal welfare organisations to fund their work so you can find great products for a great cause. And, if you want to know more about Diane’s crazy animal-filled life, hover over to DD’s Days, where she shares her often-hilarious accounts of daily life with her menagerie.
Diane says that, “Happy Tails is a 24-hour dedication, a true labour of love. The calls for animal help come in after hours and on weekends, from advice needed about injured wildlife or how to groom a bunny, to help needed to report animal abuse, how to surrender a pet or help a stray, and our most favourite: how to adopt a pet.”
Want to come aboard?
Happy Tails relies solely on advertising and sponsorship to bring people the quality content they enjoy so much. Diane emphasises that, “All advertisers, not only pet products or brands – anyone with empathy to animal welfare in SA and who wants to appeal to those who care – are welcome to advertise with us. Our dream for the future is to one day be able to give back even more to the animals in other ways than highlighting their stories and the people who help them. With enough support from supporters and advertisers, we’ll be able to accomplish this goal too. We’re looking forward to having you join us in our mission to change animals’ lives.”
This article was featured in Pivotl Magazine, Issue 1 of 2023. Read the full issue here.
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