Cape Town - With the festive season in full swing, pet owners going on holiday are advised to make use of reputable house-sitting services or reliable family members to take care of their pets. Some animal welfare organisations are seeing an increase in animals handed over or abandoned.
Animal Welfare Society of South Africa spokesperson Allan Perrins said they were experiencing an increase in the number of unwanted animals handed in.
“It would be fair to say that for every animal adopted another two or even three are admitted to almost immediately fill the empty enclosure. In many parts of the Cape Flats, owner apathy, indifference and drug and alcohol abuse often plays a huge role as does affordability,” he said.
Perrins said alcohol and substance abuse was the common denominator in many animal cruelty cases over the festive season.
“We would, however, like to emphasise that animal cruelty knows no boundaries and is not confined to any specific sector of the community. Over the course of last year we investigated 1 459 reports of animal cruelty ranging from deliberate acts of animal cruelty to gross neglect. Despite our considerable investment in humane education this cycle is almost perpetual, with seasonal peaks and troughs,” he said.
Cape of Good Hope SPCA spokesperson Belinda Abraham said the centre sees more than 45 000 animals a year and of those, more than 60% present as moderate to severe cases.
“We see an 22% approximate increase in cruelty cases between November and January each year, especially abandonment and strays,” she said.
Mdzananda Animal clinic communication manager Marcelle du Plessis said sometimes owners would go on holiday for weeks, leaving their dog in the backyard with one or two bowls of food.
“The dogs are completely emaciated on return and then need to be admitted to our hospital for our medical staff to try to nurture them back to health. Being so undernourished also makes them susceptible to other illnesses. In Khayelitsha we see this happening due to people going to the Eastern Cape and not having solutions for their pets when they go away. Sometimes we do have owners who hand their pets over during this time when they are not able to afford them any more,” she said.
Du Plessis said there were many pet boarding facilities as well as pet- and house-sitters available.
“It is also a great job creation initiative to employ a responsible person to look after your pet, in the safety of your home,” she said.