South Africa is dealing with a surplus of unwanted domestic animals which most often leads to neglect and cruelty. Animal shelters all over the country are filled to their maximum capacity and simply not enough homes available.
Taking into account that an unsterilised pet and its offspring can produce over 60 000 lives in 6 years, animal welfare organisations and government are now working together in rural areas to try and curb this overpopulation crisis.
Watch the video report below:
A State Veterinarian from the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, Dr Trent Alexander, explains why it is essential to focus on rural and impoverished settlements.
“It is important to control the numbers of animals and we are now at the unfortunate stage where we are overrun with animals, specifically in the rural areas because there has previously been no control. So, you’ve just got thousands upon thousands of animals running around and most end up without homes.”
Education plays a key part as Abel Masemola, a Kennel Supervisor for Germiston SPCA explains, “People from informal settlements love their animals. The only thing they don’t have is the knowledge on how to take care of their animals. We educate them, teach them that it is very simple; make sure your animal has clean water, food, shelter and help them understand the importance of vaccinations to prevent sickness.”
The sterilisation campaign in Katlehong was led by Animal Allies who partnered with Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW) and state vets.
Monique Friedland the founder of Animal Allies explains the need in the community for this initiative.
“People here; as much as they love their animals don’t have the privileges of going to a vet, most don’t have transport options for their animals and financially, it is not an option for them. So, we come in, treat, sterilise and it is greatly appreciated by the community.”
Calvin Moloi is a resident of Katlehong and says that this outreach provides positive support for the community and their animals.
“Some people don’t like animals and they will throw stones to chase them away. If I could talk directly to them, I would tell them to that a dog is like a person. They understand you when you talk them. I love animals because they take care of me and I take care of them.”
Recently a fifth person was confirmed to have died from Rabies, a preventable viral disease which humans can contract from an animal bite.
According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, cases of rabies have been confirmed in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape, with another possible case in the Free State.
For more on the Rabies outbreak:
Dr Alexander explains that most communities don’t know about animal diseases and zoonotic diseases, which are the diseases which can travel from animals to people.
With the right education, viral diseases such as rabies can be prevented.
“We come in and teach them how to keep the animals clean; how to treat them for worms; how to treat them for rabies, so that those specific diseases can’t go to their children to the rest of the family and that helps the animals, but it helps the people in the community. It makes it a cleaner, safe environment for everyone.”
Masemola elaborates that due to lack of information people don’t understand when to seek help for their animals.
“The most important thing is that communities don’t understand the sickness of the animals. If the animal has Parvo or Distemper, some of the sicknesses which is very dangerous to animals, they will tell you their animal has been poisoned. But it is not poisoned, but they don’t know and will leave the animal hoping it gets better but it doesn’t.”
“As the SPCA we mostly educate people in the school areas. The young people will then go home and tell their parents, no mommy this is not how you take care of the animal – you must do like this.”
A year of sterilisation
Dr Marike Calitz from CLAW says that they are trying to make this year, a year of sterilisation. Sterilisation also reduces cancer in animals as well as sexually transmitted diseases.
“Working together with other animal organisations is important to make sure that all areas in South Africa are helped. We all have our own areas but if we work together there’s a larger amount of animals that we can work and help sort out together.”
“We get a lot of unwanted animals looking for homes due to people not being able to afford the additional puppies or kittens. By sterilising the mother, you are making sure that animal lives longer and has a home to call their own.”