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'A sterilised dog is a healthier dog'

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Five veterinarians from Somerset West and Gordon's Bay have hailed the sterilisation outreach in Sir Lowry's Pass informal settlement a success, after sterilising more than 45 pit bull, Boerboel and Rottweiler dogs free of charge.

They took some of their time off to take part in the outreach clinic conducted by EberVet Community Veterinary Care (CVC), a veterinary services group that conducts spaying and neutering clinics in impoverished areas throughout the Helderberg, Overberg and the Karoo.

Organisers say it took considerable persuasion by animal welfare volunteer and community activist, Colleen Pienaar, to get dog owners to agree to have their dogs sterilised as dog fighting and protectionism is a lucrative business.

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PAIN FREE: Dr Hilldidge Beer, of the EberVet Petcare Group, was one of five vets sterilising dogs in Sir Lowry’s Pass informal settlement at no cost to their owners. Pictures: Toni YounghusbandEASY DOES IT: Volunteer Heather Arnold applies anti-parasite medication to a pit bull in the post-op recovery area at EberVet CVC's outreach clinic in impoverished areas recently.

According to the organisers, the informal settlement is home to around 7 000 residents, and an estimated 300 pit bulls. They say pit bull-breeding is rife; both for fighting and for money.

They say these breeds, popular with illegal dog-fighting syndicates and gangs, were sterilised at no cost to their owners in the Sir Lowry’s Pass informal settlement.

A 10-year-old Philippi boy was attacked by a pit bull in a street last week.

“I'm absolutely thrilled at the result. To have this many owners agree to hand over their dogs is a huge success,” Pienaar said. Assisted by several dozen volunteers, Pienaar had the dogs collected from their homes and returned after surgery. Every dog was also treated for parasites and sent home with a free bag of dog food.

Veterinarian and EberVet CVC executive officer, Dr Hilldidge Beer, said she hoped the clinic would be the first of many for pit bulls and that communities would begin to understand the substantial benefits of pet sterilisation.

Beer sterilises more than 1 000 dogs and cats a year at no cost to their impoverished owners. “Sterilised dogs remain protective of their owners and home territory, yet are less likely to wander the streets and therefore pose less of a risk to the wider community. A sterilised dog is also healthier and less likely to spread disease.”

She said the more attention that was focused on these fighting dogs, the greater the effort to curb this barbaric practice.

“This is a much broader social issue which needs to be addressed by several community agencies. We are but a small part of the solution, but we hope that our efforts will spur others into action,” said Beer.

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