Saturday, May 18, 2024

ANIMALS 101 – WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE SPCA’S RESPONSIBILITY?

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WHEN YOU UNDERSTAND THE MANDATE OF THE SPCA, YOU MAY BE ABLE TO HELP ANIMALS MORE EFFECTIVELY.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals which in short is SPCA, aims to protect all animals from cruelty, neglect and ill-treatment that often results from ignorance about animals and their needs, although it is no excuse. The SPCA has authority basically in terms of any animal’s welfare. The local municipality and police in each town are however responsible for certain complaints about animals like those causing a nuisance or disturbance of the peace.

You are always welcome to contact the SPCA to advise you or help where they can. It is however important to understand their mandate within the local municipality in terms of lost, found, stray or injured animals, selling, deceased and nuisance complaints.  There is more to the mandate than what we discuss below, especially when it comes to practices like hunting, performing animals in circus or aquariums, illegal wildlife trade next to the road and more.

JURISDICTION

Every SPCA has a jurisdictional area wherein they operate.  Contact your nearest SPCA or the NSPCA if there is not one nearby. Find yours here.

Some situations that may appear as though the SPCA must get involved, aren’t actually within their mandate. Their mandate is to prevent cruelty, and in a country that spans over a million square kilometers, their Inspectors must place their focus on cases where the Animals Protection Act is being contravened. Please consider the following guidelines:

Barking Dogs

Barking dogs does not fall within their mandate and you should contact your local Municipality or police station to lodge a formal complaint regarding barking dogs. If it sounds more like distressed barking, please contact the SPCA to investigate at that address.

Stray Animals

The local Municipality in each town is responsible for complaints regarding stray animals, which include animals in the street, animals causing a nuisance, or animals attacking people & other animals. Please contact your local Municipality or police station for assistance in this matter.

However, if you can enclose a stray, please do so and take the animal to the nearest SPCA. If a stray animal appears thin, sick, injured, or in distress, you should immediately contact your local SPCA emergency number! Call until they answer, don’t send a message and especially no emergencies via Facebook because these pages aren’t monitored 24/7.  

Many of the SPCA, even though it is not part of their mandate, might pick up strays and especially those that are reported as being on the street for a long period as well as “power breeds” used for dog fighting.

If an animal is constantly on the street and you know who the owners are, you can contact the SPCA and request a proactive inspection at the owner’s home.  Please do this to help the animal.

Deceased Animals

The local Municipality in each town is responsible for the collection of dead animals in puclic areas. If you do find a deceased animal lying in the street, please try and move the body out of the way.  It might be helpful to take a picture and send it to your local lost and found groups so they can give closure to someone whose pet was lost.

The Selling of Animals

The SPCA opposes the sale/trading of animals, however, it is not illegal to trade with domestic animals and therefore, they have no jurisdiction to intervene unless there are welfare concerns. There are certain regulations to be followed in terms of welfare which they can investigate and act upon. If you are unsure, rather let them investigate. In the case of any breeders (registered or backyard), they need the breeder’s address to conduct a proactive inspection (we often ask for this) which you can request or an inspection if you actually see welfare concerns including lack of food and water, distress, confinement, etc.

Side note: The selling of animals goes against Facebook community standards and should be reported to the Facebook group admins and Facebook itself.  If the seller does not mention a price in the post, ask for it in the comments and report that comment too.  If they use the word adoption, ask for their NPO/NPC registration number. If they can’t provide theirs or they have one and do not include sterilization and home checks, then they should not be using the word adoption.  Please contact us at The Paw Company to report that.

SPCA
Image as shared by Bethal SPCA

MANDATE AND POWERS OF INSPECTORS

In South Africa, SPCA Inspectors are authorized in terms of the Animals Protection Act 71 of 1962 (as amended) and the Performing Animals Protection Act No. 24 of 1935 (as amended) and undertakes most of all animal welfare investigations and prosecutions in South Africa.

This means that in terms of both the Acts mentioned above, qualified inspectors with magisterial authorization have the powers that include the obtaining of search and seizure warrants to enter any premises and seize any animal to prevent suffering. The SPCAs work with local law enforcement and when individuals are in contravention of the provisions of the Animals Protection Act, it can lead to an arrest, including the abondoning of an animal. Keep in mind it is not always as simple as to just remove an animal.

ABOUT SPCA OPERATIONS

The public can take animals to the SPCA that seem lost, abandoned or whose owners did not keep them safe in their yards. For animals in danger or injured, they will go out ASAP!

Pound period

When an animal is taken to the SPCA there is a pound period. The pound period is mainly determined by the local municipal bylaws for animals. According to these local laws the SPCA can either euthanize or adopt the animal out after the pound period. Pound periods can vary between SPCAs from 5 to 14 days. 

During the pound period, they do not advertise animals, but owners who have lost pets can contact them, send an email with pictures and details, but the best option is to visit the kennels to see if your pet has been taken to them. Follow up and visit frequently.  Remember that they work with many animals a day and different volunteers, so it is crucial that you go in to check.

Claiming your lost animal

Owners who claim these animals during the pound period might need to pay for sterilization, micro-chipping, collar ID deworming, vaccinations and pound fees per day, for their care. This will be determined by the SPCA’s policy.

If an owner claims the animal after the pound period, they will need to go through the adoption process.

When someone’s animal is constantly in the street.  Please take them to the SPCA as the owner can then explain to the SPCA why they allow their animals in the street, they will have to meet all the above requirements for claiming an animal and will be subject to a home check too.

Surrendering an animal

If you can no longer take care of your animal, you can surrender them to your nearest SPCA by signing a document that transfers ownership to the SPCA in a “no questions asked” kind of way. However, if you dump the animal in the street or leave them behind when you move and they find you, it is contraventions of the Animals Protection Act and will have serious repercussions.

Euthanasia

If your pet is suffering and or severely ill, please do not let them suffer any further because you can’t afford to put them to sleep.  You can surrender them to the SPCA at no cost (consider a donation though) to end their suffering humanely as soon as possible.

ALWAYS REPORT CRUELTY

Please report animal cruelty directly to your local SPCA. If you suspect cruelty or are unsure, please report it immediately so they can investigate. There is a legal process they have to follow which may include first only a notice to comply or a warning, etc.  The animal can’t just be removed without evidence, so report it even if you are unsure and when it happens again. Try to get evidence if you can do this safely.   All of this can speed up the process to remove the animal. These reports can be done anonymously.

SPCA
REPORT CRUELTY – Image as shared by Bethal SPCA

Please save the contact numbers in advance, especially the emergency ones!

Highveld Ridge SPCA (Evander)

Office:082 869 2350 / 017 6322654

Emergency nr.: 082 222 1122 / 067 114 7206

info@hrspca.co.za

Bethal SPCA

Office: 066 397 1630 / 017 647 5360

Emergency nr.: 072 573 3122

office@spcabethal.co.za

Also read what to do when you find a wild bird.

Before you blame the SPCA, please go and volunteer, to better understand.  Become a member so you can have a say through voting at the AGM. Please sterilize your pets, keep them safe in your yard, keep them healthy, meet their needs and also make sure your microchip is registered on multiple databases. 

Remember that when an animal is a “nuisance” to you, it is not the animal’s fault, but a human who failed them. Thank you to each who supports the reputable local animal welfare organizations, so they can continue the good work. Next week we will look at what to do if your pet dies at home.

WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, DO BETTER!

Please note that I write this as someone who has been involved with the SPCA, but does not represent the SPCA here in any way.