Charity group’s help rejected

2015-06-18 06:00

A CHARITY group that attempted to make a donation of all that was necessary to keep the eThekwini Metro Police’s canines fit and healthy were turned away from the unit’s kennels on Monday.

Feeding the Furballs chairperson Farrah Maharajh said that when she and some of her volunteers arrived at the eThekwini Metro Police’s dog kennels in Kenyon Howdon Road with more than R15 000 in food, shampoo, de-worming tablets and other treats for the dogs, they were turned away.

Supporters of the charity rallied to helping the dogs following a News 24 report last week where it emerged that the Metro Police dog unit is plagued by shortages of dog food and dog shampoo. A large proportion of the K9 force has also not been inoculated because of outstanding vet bills.

Several officers who spoke to News 24 on condition of anonymity said that they had resorted to buying the essentials for their dogs out of their own pockets.

Maharajh said that one woman in Johannesburg had taken such pity on the dogs that she had donated almost R2 000 towards the dogs.

“We had such a good response from our suppliers and the public. They all wanted to help.”

But it was not to be. Their reception at the kennels was frosty to say the least.

“We were trying to find someone to donate the food to and then a guy comes out and tells us to leave the premises.

“He said to us that Innocent was coming and that they have a standing order not to accept anything from the public. The gentleman said that everything in the media was a lie.”

eThekwini Metro Police spokesperson referred all comments to municipal spokesperson Tozi Mthethwa. She could not immediately be reached for comment. Last week she told News24 that the matters were being addressed.

“Management is addressing all matters relating to Metro Police dogs as they are an important part of the Metro Police family and all effort is being made to ensure their care is of an acceptable standard,” she said at the time.

However, apart from a lack of shampoo for the dogs, the vet bills had been unpaid for the past six months, according to the information received by News24.

In 2013, mystery surrounded a standing order from eThekwini Metro Police that ordered that specialised police dogs, which were injured or too old to work, should be put down.

The order, which had originally emanated from Metro Police logistics head Innocent Chamane, was then put on hold by the council after an eruption of outrage from dog handlers and animal rights activists.

Chamane had argued that police dogs should be viewed as “an asset” and, as such, ought to be destroyed when they are no longer able to work, like office furniture.

Maharajh said that the charity would need to decide what to do with the more than 400 kg of dog food, but that she would not return to the Kenyon Howden Road kennels. “It was a very unpleasant experience,” she said.

— News24

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