SPCA: Govt support needed for dogs
Johannesburg - More support is needed from local government to combat problems associated with feral dogs, the Cape of Good Hope SPCA said on Wednesday.
"We need greater commitment from authorities to help us with the problem of pet over-population," said spokesperson Sarah Scarth.
The dangers of the dog over-population problem became national news when a 2-year-old boy was mauled to death by dogs in Sweet Home Farm, in Philippi, Cape Town last month.
Scarth said members of the community had threatened to kill all the dogs in the informal settlement after the incident and a number of animal cruelty cases had been reported.
Most dogs euthanised
The Cape of Good Hope SPCA responded by asking residents to sign over their unwanted dogs for euthanasia.
Ninety percent of the 200 dogs rounded up were euthanised, as only a few were healthy enough to rehabilitate.
"Our primary role was to prevent further animal cruelty by removing the dogs from these circumstances," Scarth said.
"Sweet Home Farm is a very poor area. Many of the dogs suffered from malnutrition, mange and other diseases," she said.
Many residents could not afford to have their dogs sterilised, and the resulting uncontrolled breeding had led many dogs to be reliant on scavenging.
Chief executive Allan Perrins said: "This is when their instincts as predators manifest themselves.
Unsupervised children are most vulnerable and prone to being attacked due to their naiveté and inquisitiveness."
A much bigger issue
Shortly after the toddler was killed, two more children were bitten by a female dog, sending fresh waves of panic through the community.
Scarth said it appeared that the dog had been protecting her puppies through natural maternal instincts.
"Animal and human welfare are inextricably linked... This is part of a much bigger issue. Sweet Home Farm is not the only community in the Cape with these problems."
She said a more holistic approach was needed to combat the problems associated with over-population of dogs.
The SPCA had been educating communities to make them aware of their responsibilities to pets and their children.
Scarth said animal welfare groups were appealing to the City of Cape Town for increased funding to expand existing mobile veterinarian services, including sterilisation.
By-laws limiting the number of dogs allowed per household also needed to be finalised.