Cape Town-121203-Lola Cox (in pic) from African Tails is fostering little cross bread German Shepherd, "Frazer" who was rescued from someone selling dogs on the street in Camps Bay-Reporter-Nontando-Photographer-Tracey Adams

Cape Town - Animal organisations have warned of an increase in illegal animal trading across the city this festive season.

Jessica Perrins of the Cape Animal Welfare Forum (CAWF) said on Monday they had noticed a significant increase in the sale of puppies and other animals such as baby rabbits and kittens on the city’s streets.

The illegal sale of animals was a problem throughout the year but escalated over the festive period, she said.

“Buying any animal from the side of the road is not an act of kindness, it’s perpetuation of the cycle of animal cruelty,” Perrins said.

The hot spots for illegal animal trading include Kenilworth/Rosemead Avenue, the city centre, N1 Klapmuts/R44 turn-off, and Philippi.

Puppies are sold for as little as R10.

“Some people naively believe they are getting a bargain, whereas they are taking on an enormous responsibility,” said Perrins.

“Given the poor condition of many of the younger animals for sale, it is assumed they are being bred by unscrupulous backyard breeders. If the public are offered a pedigreed puppy there is every likelihood it was stolen.”

Perrins said a deadly consequence of unlawfully buying young animals was the spread of zoonotic diseases - transmitted from animals to people - since most of these animals have not been vaccinated or dewormed.

“Many of them are also far too young to be separated from their mother and are susceptible to potentially fatal diseases because their immune system is compromised.”

Allan Perrins, chief executive of the Cape of Good Hope SPCA and chairman of CAWF, said they received complaints every week about illegal animal trading, mostly from suburbs in the north and south. Last week an eight-week-old puppy had been handed in by a concerned person. He was extremely hungry and thirsty and is now in a foster home awaiting adoption. Perrins said street sellers preyed on people’s emotions.

“Some of their sales pitches and techniques are crude and border on the obscene - some threaten to throw the already traumatised animal into oncoming traffic if one does not buy the animal… these are not animal lovers but an uncaring minority obsessed with money,” he said.

“Callous” backyard breeders thrived because they were persuasive. “They have no set routine or set sales patterns and appear to quickly set up shop where they are of the opinion they are most likely to find a soft victim.”

Perrins added: “If you want to acquire a pet, rather adopt one. You will be spoilt for choice and by doing so you will be giving an animal a second chance,” he said.

Should you come across individuals selling any small animals, call Law Enforcement at 021 596 1999.

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Cape Argus