Five dogs from the Mangaung Metro Municipality Law Enforcement Department have been confiscated and euthanised over concerns that they were kept in poor conditions.
"My heart broke when I saw the dogs. The conditions were terrible, knowing that they had to stay in those kennels most of their life. The department could at least have had a retirement plan for them but never retired the dogs and instead, just left them in the kennels," said Bloemfontein SPCA inspector Charmaine Engelbrecht.
The dogs were kept in a rusty kennel and the SPCA said the animals could barely support their own weight and had severe musculoskeletal problems.
There was thick grass all around the kennels, indicating that there were irregular visits to the area.
"Numerous visits were done previously and [a] warning was given to better the condition of the animals. No action was taken by the authorities. Therefore, the Bloemfontein SPCA confiscated the animals which were in the custody of the Mangaung Metro Municipality," said the Bloemfontein SPCA.
'It's a disgrace'
According to the animal rights organisation, the kennels were in a terrible state and there were indications that the dogs had behavioural problems.
"Suffering in this heat with those thick coats and struggling to walk due to hip dysplasia. It's a disgrace. You could see that the dogs wanted to cool down as they had tried to sit in their water bowls," said Engelbrecht.
"It is so sad because when they knocked over their water in the morning, they would have no water until the next day; when someone had time to attend to them."
She added that the dogs' appearance showed no evidence that they had been groomed and faeces were stuck to matted hair.
The confiscation of the dogs will not impact on the SPCA's drive to protect animal rights.
"It will not have an influence on the relationship we have. We know about each other; we don't really work with them that much because they don't accompany us when we remove animals for cruelty purposes," Engelbrecht said of the relationship with the law enforcement department.
"We ask the police to help us with that."
The SPCA obtained a court order to remove the dogs and a vet concluded that the dogs were not fit for work as a result of their neglect.
"The dogs could hardly walk to the vehicle; we had to help them. These dogs were in such severe pain and showed clear signs of neglect," said Engelbrecht.
'Cruelty is cruelty'
Ultimately, the dogs had to be euthanised to end their suffering.
The organisation is in the process of opening an animal cruelty case against members of the Mangaung Metro Municipality Law Enforcement Department and its management in terms of the Animal Protection Act 71 of 1962.
The SPCA said that it would not show deference to government institutions if it found instances of animal abuse or cruelty.
"Cruelty is cruelty and the animals will always come first. Even if we did have a good relationship with them (metro law enforcement), I would have still opened a case," Engelbrecht said.
According to the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA), inspections were conducted at several government entities, including police K9 units, SARS customs and excise unit, as well as correctional services units in the 2018/2019 year.
The NSPCA was successful in 18 animal abuse prosecutions, it said in its 2018/2019 annual report, highlighting terms of direct imprisonment for dog fighters in Pretoria and Johannesburg.
There are 97 cases of animal abuse awaiting finalisation, said the NSPCA.