The Animal Welfare Society of South Africa (AWSSA) saw a 100% increase in the rate of unwanted/surrendered cats and kittens between October and November 2020 and is seeing these figures for the same period in 2021.
There has also been an increase in the number of unwanted dogs and puppies between the same months in 2020 and 2021.
October saw an increase of 23%, and November 55%.
AWSSA spokesperson Allan Perrins said they are swamped with unwanted animals, especially cats and kittens.
“To illustrate the enormity of the challenge, within less than four hours yesterday, we had three adult cats and 16 kittens handed in (as unwanted) by a Hanover Park resident who simply could not afford to feed all of these hungry mouths. If this is an indication of what lies in store for the predictably hectic festive season, then we are really going to have our hands full,” he said.
One of the reasons for the rapid increase could be households taking a financial knock since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Also, AWSSA goes into areas needing help with pet sterilisations, and this activity was curtailed recently.
“This allowed intact pets to breed uncontrollably. The fact that owners and finders are admitting these animals to us is to be highly commended and encouraged, as the last thing anyone wants is for them to be dumped, sold on or given away. We have a contingency plan in place to cater for the holiday season influx and this will be activated from today until the schools go back. The influx will test our capacity but I am confident that we will meet the increased demand,” he said.
TEARS marketing manager Wendy Scheepers said the holiday season is a challenging time for the entire animal welfare system.
“Rescues and shelters are inundated with pets who have been discarded to make space for a new holiday pet, and pets are abandoned while the family leaves for holiday. While it is a joyous season for most, it is an incredibly challenging time in animal welfare when there is an increase in pressure as the need outweighs resources,” she said.