Having too many animals in these organisations, however, can often have long-lasting and devastating effects on animals. Picture: AP

Animal welfare organisations often report that their kennels are at capacity and the smaller organisations often cannot take on any more animals until some are adopted. 

“In South Africa in particular, many animal welfare have found that as the economic climate gets tougher, many people are surrendering their pets as they simply can no longer afford to care for them any longer,” said Tara McGovern, communications, digital & resource development for the SPCA. 

“We also find that during the holiday season there is an increase in the number of pets abandoned as some people make the incredibly careless and cruel decision to go away and choose to abandon their pets in order to have a long holiday.”

These are just a few of the reasons why South Africa’s animal welfare organisations and rescue centres are packed to the brim. Having too many animals in these organisations, however, can often have long-lasting and devastating effects on animals. 

“Sadly there are still those people who want younger animals versus the option of adopting an older one in need of a home,” explained McGovern. 

“The reality is that many people are attracted to the ‘cute factor’ of a younger puppy or kitten, overlooking the urgent reality that sees animals of all ages needing a home and love. As a result, older animals are often overlooked in shelters and, sadly, some will be abandoned when a family has outgrown them.”

Three reasons to consider adopting a dog from a shelter:

  • Adopting older dogs from a shelter is really giving them a second lease on life, while offering them a sense of home and belonging. You not only save their life but the life of the next animal that will take their place in the adoption kennels.
  • Getting a puppy is a lot of hard work that requires time and commitment. You will have to go through the process of house training them from scratch. Dogs who have been in a shelter or kennels for a while are often already house-trained
  • A dog that is older, will be socialised and generally just want to relax and be a companion to their human friend.

Three reasons to consider adopting a cat from a shelter: 

  • You don’t have to worry about initial costs for “getting them done”. Cats who have been in a shelter are spayed/neutered and will be fully up-to-date with their vaccines, microchip and de-worming.
  • There are few surprises with cats who come from a shelter. By the time you adopt a cat, staff and volunteers at the shelter will be able to tell you the personality traits of the feline friend as they would have spent a lot of time getting to know them. If you’re looking for a cat with a specific temperament - playful, active, calm or friendly - you will most likely be able to get it from an animal welfare.
  • If you live alone and you’re toying with the idea of getting a pet, cats make excellent companions - especially for those who live in apartments. They are “relatively” low maintenance and often enjoy a good snuggle.