Exposure of domestic animals to the escalating violence and gangsterism on the Cape Flats means more trauma for them. File picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - Exposure of domestic animals to the escalating violence and gangsterism on the Cape Flats, and the lack of easily accessible veterinary care means more trauma for them.

So said Cape Town civil society activist Nikki Botha. Botha said violence towards animals escalated in areas where there was violence towards humans.

“Violent behaviour towards animals is often used to determine and analyse criminal behaviour. In domestic violence cases, more often than not, violence is perpetrated towards the family pet. It is worse for animals because they do not understand what is happening, or why Animals caught up in violent gang actions suffer just as much as animals in abattoirs.”

Animal Anti-Cruelty League general manager, Venessa Strauss, said: “Often powerbred dogs, such as pitbulls, are used for self-protection. Due to the way these animals are kept and trained to protect properties and people, they do get caught up in cross-fire. Not only is it difficult for people to seek help for their animals, but it is dangerous for animal welfare organisations to have a presence in these volatile communities, which means many animals do not have access to primary veterinary care.”

A 2001 survey by Adopt a Pet and The National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders, which included a hands-on interaction with Grade 9 learners at a high school in an area with a high incidence of gangster activity, revealed that most participants had abused or killed animals.

Founder of Adopt a Pet, Cicely Blumberg, said: “Prior to this, we had become increasingly aware of the researched and proven link between childhood cruelty to animals and their development when they reached adulthood of perpetrating violence towards the vulnerable in society. The success of our programmes succeeded beyond our expectations and were revealed when the learners began to trust us and admitted many of them had abused and killed animals before they became involved in our programmes."

Botha said the issue of animal abuse wasn’t recognised enough because animals were seen as objects, and property. “Even the law recognises them as such. If we afford animals the rights they are entitled to, educate the public on these rights, and force the authorities to acknowledge the negative impact of animal cruelty and abuse, we can start eliminating all violence.”


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Cape Argus