Durban — A major sterilisation campaign is under way to reduce the number of homeless cats and dogs in shelters and living on the country’s streets.
This comes after a global survey revealed that South Africa has 4 million homeless cats and dogs, of which 650 000 live in shelters and 3.4 million are strays.
The State of Pet Homelessness Project study was conducted by a global coalition of animal welfare experts, including Humane Society International (HSI), in partnership with Mars Multisales Southern Africa.
HSI’s acting companion animal and engagement campaign manager Dr Audrey Delsink said through their “Healthy Pets, Healthier Community” programme they offered free sterilisation and primary veterinary care in lower-income communities. So far 1500 animals had been sterilised.
She said the problem of homeless pets stemmed from the low percentage of pet sterilisation.
“About 52% of dogs and just over 60% of cats are sterilised,” said Delsink.
She said a large number of animals were also given away.
Survey results showed that one in five people said they had to move and couldn’t take their pets with them. Those animals either ended up lost, or were not sterilised and this perpetuated the problem.
Delsink said a third of those surveyed also said they gave an animal away because they were concerned about its behaviour, or it ran away.
She said surprisingly few people ensured there was a way to identify their pets, such as a collar or a tag with a name and phone number or a microchip that could be scanned to get the owner’s details.
Delsink called on people to adopt pets from shelters.
She said the sterilisation campaign would be taken to several parts of the country.
Independent on Saturday