Picket planned over delay in Howick animal cruelty case

2008-07-28 00:00

uMngeni SPCA supporters will picket outside the Howick Magistrate’s Court today over a two-year delay in prosecuting a couple found in possession of 117 animals kept in conditions said to be contravening almost all the clauses in the Animal Protection Act.

uMngeni inspector Alec Wylie could not say what is behind the delay, but said people are upset about the manner the matter has been handled.

“I have no idea why it has taken so long. We confiscated the animals in August, almost two years ago, and we opened a charge of animal cruelty against the owners. But … these animals are living in solitary confinement while we wait for the court to decide on the matter,” he said.

According to Wylie, the animals — several dogs and cats, four pigs, two horses and two birds — were seized under regulation 468, which gives the SPCA power to remove animals where there are signs of neglect and cruelty.

uMngeni SPCA was called in to assist with the animals after the previous owners of the farm where the animals were being kept in Howick were evicted.

It is alleged that the woman, who is believed to have come from the Johannesburg area, worked for the SPCA there, but broke away over disagreements about certain policies.

She is believed to have started collecting stray animals off the streets, as well as buying animals from people going overseas.

The Witness had reported that the animals were found with gingivitis, growths, worms and ticks.

The bodies of dead kitten were left to rot in cages with live animals, while one dog had a growth the size of his head on his hind leg, when they were found by Wylie and his team.

“We were landed with six cats and four dogs. The remainder of the animals, with the exception of the pigs and horses, had to go to Pietermaritzburg. We recently worked out that we have spent about R107 000 just to look after the animals. Imagine what Pietermaritzburg’s bill is like.”

According to Wylie, the SPCA is allowed to recover only R5 000 as a pay-out for looking after the animals, but its lawyers have advised it to ask for the whole amount even if it means the couple has to pay R50 a month.

Wylie said that between 50 and 60 cats were put down after they were found to have a contagious, air-borne viral infection which had progressed.

What’s more, some animals were destroyed after developing “kennel distress”, which means animals become aggressive towards other animals and their minders. This is caused by the stress of being caged for a long time.

Wylie said this was only his second case of this nature. Although the legal proceedings are often a lengthy process, he said, the delay proves that the case is not seen as priority.

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