Cape Town pet owners, take notice: Sterilisations of cats and dogs is now compulsory

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Dog and cat sterilisations are now compulsory for Cape Town pet owners.
Dog and cat sterilisations are now compulsory for Cape Town pet owners.
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  • Pet sterilisation in the Cape metro is now compulsory.
  • The City of Cape Town says all pets six months and older must be sterilised.
  • Animal welfare organisations have welcomed the new by-law. 

It is now unlawful not to have your pets sterilised in the City of Cape Town. The City recently gazetted the Animal Keeping By-law, which stipulates that all dogs and cats six months and older must be sterilised unless the owner obtains a permit from the City.

The new by-law states that "keeping, breeding, or selling any animal within the scope of business or economic activities" requires an authorisation from the City.

The City's spokesperson, Mzwakhe Nqavashe, said the City and animal welfare organisations were increasingly spending vast amounts of money on health and safety programmes dedicated to animals.

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"We have also seen an increase in the number of complaints around animal welfare, which is placing immense pressure on the SPCA and other organisations in the animal welfare sector, but also the City's Law Enforcement Department," added Nqavashe.

The City said residents who didn't want their pets to be sterilised must apply for a permit.

"An application to keep an unsterilised animal must be in writing on a prescribed form, in accordance with relevant City Policies and Standard Operating Procedures and must be accompanied by the prescribed fee," the City's by-law states.

The City's interventions in recent years to advance animal welfare have also included:

  • The funding of targeted sterilisation campaigns conducted by members of the Cape Animal Welfare Forum (CAWF)
  • Supporting the CAWF's animal adoption drives
  • Establishing an anti-dog fighting task team to tackle this growing problem, and
  • Ongoing efforts by the Law Enforcement Animal Control Unit to address by-law transgressions, as well as public and animal safety.

Animal welfare organisations in the Western Cape have welcomed the new by-law on mandatory sterilisation.

Allan Perrins, spokesperson for the Animal Welfare Society (AWS), said the new by-law presented a "triumph" for all animal lovers and animal welfare professionals.

"In our experience, that spans over 90 years, there are few animal welfare interventions that have a greater beneficial impact than mass pet sterilisation programmes, as we continue the battle against the scourge of animal overpopulation and cruelty," said Perrins.

Perrins said he hoped the AWS would soon see an influx of pet owners bringing their pets for sterilisation.

"Of course, we do know that there are many pet owners who won't be happy about this new law as many of them might see it as a sense of control, but all we are trying to do is prevent the spread of stray and unwanted pets roaming the streets," he added.

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Cape of Good Hope SPCA spokesperson Belinda Abraham said they were "delighted" with the new by-law.

"The SPCA has been and remains under significant pressure resulting from the numbers of stray and unwanted animals coming into our facility daily. We are already expecting a minimum of 2 000 animals between now and January," Abraham added.

According to the SPCA, sterilisation translated directly into the prevention of cruelty to animals and remained one of the only proactive tools they had at their disposal to fight animal cruelty.

The SPCA said:

Reducing pet populations humanely will reduce the current burden on the animal welfare sector. Sterilisation also has numerous benefits for animals and can help pets live longer, happier lives.

Meanwhile, residents of Cape Town have mixed reactions to the new by-law.

Wendy Titus, 55, who recently had her ginger cat sterilised, said she was very happy that sterilisation was now compulsory.

"It makes me upset when I see so many stray animals on the streets. Many of them look undernourished and sad. I can't understand how pet owners want to have pets but can't look after their animals," she said.

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Boniswa Sithole from Langa said she was not happy with the new by-law.

"This is a whole control thing. The City wants to control what we do with our pets. Some of us look nicely after our animals. We shouldn't be punished for other people's carelessness," she added.  

Paul Newman from Strandfontein said the City's plans were "ridiculous".

"Pets are made to breed. Not allowing the animal to bring nature into the world is cruelty. Now people must be subjected to applying for permits at a cost if they want to breed. The economy is already suffering. Where will people get money to pay for animal permits?" added Newman.

Vanelee Abrahams, 31, from Vredehoek said she was glad her boerboel was able to bring life into this world before she had to be sterilised.

"I think it's kind of a good thing that this is mandatory because we have so many stray dogs roaming the streets. I don't think sterilisation will prevent animals from roaming the streets, but I guess it will stop the overpopulation of breeding," she said.

Abrahams said she planned to have her four puppies sterilised as soon as they reach six months.

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