SPCA told to free 17 hunting dogs

2009-10-14 00:00

THE police have ordered the SPCA to release the 17 hunting dogs that were impounded after their owners were caught hunting with them at Copesville last week.

The dogs killed a duiker.

Six men were arrested and released on bail.

Maureen Vida, SPCA spokeswoman, said the state is not prepared to cover the costs of keeping the dogs in kennels.

The “drawn-out and inadequate legal system does not take into account the emotional cruelty of incarcerating … the hunting dogs in kennels for months, and in some cases years, while awaiting the outcome of the case.

“This lengthy process has, in the past, incurred costs that the state is no longer prepared to cover and therefore the SPCA has been instructed by the police to release the dogs back to their owners who are at present out on bail,” said Vida.

Vida said that as their owners were caught red-handed, the SPCA believes this amounts to giving back to criminals the very weapons that they used to commit the crime.

Police spokeswoman Inspector Joey Jeevan said unlawful hunting with dogs is regarded as a serious offence.

She said the police have the following options when dogs are found hunting unlawfully or found accompanying a person who has been caught hunting.

First, the dogs may be destroyed by any person as stipulated in the ordinance, for example the owner of the land or a member of the police or a peace officer.

Second, the dogs may be seized as an exhibit in terms of Section 20 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Third, the dogs may be released back to their owner or another responsible person.

Jeevan said that whoever the dogs are handed to must be warned that the dogs must be made available for court proceedings upon demand.

She said that if the accused is arrested and subsequently released, he can be told to bring the dogs to court with him when he next appears, although this is not the case in this matter.

“The main purpose of this operating procedure is to ensure that evidence is preserved for the purpose of proceeding with a criminal trial against a suspect without incurring the costs of seizing alleged hunting dogs and having to make provisions for their well-being pending the outcome of the criminal case.”

A case of hunting wild animals without a permit has been opened. Five of the suspects were detained and later released on bail, and a 16-year-old boy was released into his parents’ custody.



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