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Excess domestic animals

The City of Cape Town is once again advertising ‘Grant in Aid’ funding for the removal of animal carcasses, but continues to refuse funding for animal sterilisation in disadvantaged areas. Mass animal sterilisation is the only permanent and fiscally responsible solution to domestic animal overpopulation and its attending consequences, which includes but is certainly not limited to thousands upon thousands of animals being euthanased and their carcasses needing to be disposed of.

CoGH SPCA CEO, Allan Perrins stated on their website that for the financial year 2009/2010 they received a Grant-in-Aid of R150 000.00 from the City of Cape Town for carcass removal. Perrins explained that they were charged R59.26 per bag (ex VAT) by the City’s service provider Shine the Way and that over the past 4 months (Jul to Oct 09) they paid their service provider R89 985.05 for the removal of 1 332 bags. An average of 333 bags per month. The ‘bags’ Perrins speaks of can hold up to 65kg. The average weight of a medium sized dog is 20kg, a cat 4kg, puppies and kittens 100g plus.

Hundreds of thousands of cats and dogs are being born each month in our province, most of which eventually die of starvation and disease, but not before producing offspring themselves. Over a two year period one medium sized unsterilized bitch can be the cause of 474 more puppy births – she has puppies and her puppies have puppies and so on, but only a tiny percentage of these unlucky animals are ‘rescued’. As recently as July 2010, Alderman JP Smith, Mayco member for Safety and Security, conceded that their investigation had revealed that only one in one hundred ‘rescued’ animals are re-homed and the remaining 99 ‘rescued’ animals are euthanased.

Now what about the millions of animals who are NOT rescued but live, breed, spread disease and eventually die in our disadvantaged areas? The perception is that both the City and Western Cape government would like those of us living in the leafy suburbs to be oblivious of the epidemic gripping the Western Cape – why else are they so focused on carcass removal to the exclusion of carcass prevention?

SA.MAST is a small organisation, but we are doing ‘big’ things and making an even bigger difference to the status quo within the Khayelitsha environment. However, we will be the first to admit that we are not doing nearly enough, even though we have successfully sterilised and treated over 4000 patients so far. We have the will and the necessary expertise to implement a much larger mass animal sterilisation and primary treatment programme, but cannot do so without the financial backing of the Western Cape government. What Khayelitsha and all of our other informal settlements need is a massive sterilisation and primary treatment programme. Until such time as this occurs, millions of dogs will continue to suffer unspeakable neglect and abuse and their terrible suffering will go largely unreported. How many children must be savaged to death, how many families must become infected with worms and scabies and how many tourists must shun our informal settlements because they are not ‘attractive’ places to visit before our government stops posing for the camera and finally rolls up their sleeves and gets to work?


Proposals for a Sustainable Policy on Animals in South Africa.

Noting:

  1. The supremacy of the Constitution;
  2. The duty of the state to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights in the Bill of Rights;
  3. The relevance to any policy on animals of the constitutionally guaranteed rights to human dignity, psychological integrity, freedom from violence, the right to associate freely, the right to an environment which is not harmful to health and well-being, the rights to property and not to be expropriated without compensation, and the paramount nature of the best interests of children;
  4. The sentient nature of all animals, whether wild or domesticated;
  5. The over-population of domestic animals which provide companionship and protection to humans in urban areas;
  6. The popularity of hunting of wild animals in rural areas and increasing conflict between humans and animals for scarce resources and living space;
  7. The outdated ethos and principles informing the existing legislation relating to animals;
  8. The unconstitutionality of the search and seizure provisions of the Animal Protection Act read with the powers accorded the SPCA in the legislation which regulates it;
  9. The need to align all legislation concerning animals with the values and principles of the Constitution;
  10. The need to articulate an appropriate policy on animals to inform and guide the public administration and lawmakers in all spheres of government.

It is proposed that all policy and laws regarding animals:

  1. Adopt a humane, non-violent, anti-cruelty approach to the treatment of animals consonant with respect for and promotion of all the rights set out in note 3 above;
  2. Recognize animals as sentient beings whose treatment by humans reflects the nature of the value system in place in society;
  3. Encourage best practice in relation to the interests of animals and those who care for and own them in a manner which promotes and empowers socio-economic progress;
  4. Enable and finance the sterilization of animals and their adoption in circumstances in which the over-population of animals presents financial, health and nuisance problems;
  5. Reverse the unconstitutional features of out-dated existing legislation;
  6. Create a regimen in which all practices in conflict with the humane treatment of animals are eliminated and reinforce this by way of humane education;
  7. Regulate the interaction between humans and animals in a manner which promotes the values and principles of the Constitution.

Paul Hoffman SC
8th November, 2011

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