Pets elicit heated clash

ROB KNOWLES

AN elderly Port Alfred resident has blasted the Port Alfred SPCA for its alleged reluctance to act on a complaint of animal neglect.

But the SPCA has responded that it is constrained by the law and there was no evidence to lay charges with the police.

Dave Maree, whose property backs onto 9 Pike Avenue, the home of the Lax family, said there were five dogs and a kitten on the property which he claimed were being kept in filthy conditions and often left without food or water.

He said the pet owners were often away for days and he took pity on the animals and began feeding them twice a week and changing their water. He also took two of the dogs to the SPCA for a flea dip.

“The property is unkempt and in a filthy state,” said Maree, who was particularly concerned about a small Maltese poodle which struggled to drink from “a pot of dirty water”.

Maree said his initial complaints to the SPCA elicited “drive-by” inspections as he was told SPCA inspectors could not enter a property unless accompanied by a municipal health inspector.

He subsequently arranged for Ndlambe health inspector Mcingeli Madlebe to accompany him and SPCA inspector Anel Slabbert to view for themselves the condition in which the animals were kept.

During that visit Maree said Slabbert took photographs of the property and took the kitten into care. Maree contends this was because it was kept in “a filthy room, without food or clean water”.

But he said the SPCA took no further action.

In response to a letter from Maree, SPCA management committee chairman, Steve Venter, said there was “no evidence the animals were mistreated, tortured or the victims of any cruelty”.

He said they removed the kitten only temporarily because the litter tray was dirty and it had no water.

“The kitten, being healthy and in good condition, was returned to the care of the Lax family after Anel discussed its care with the family and they undertook to take proper care of it.”

“I never suggested the animals were being tortured,” said a shocked Maree. “I simply said they were neglected and left without food and clean water. I have bought food for the dogs in the past, but had to stop doing so when Mr Lax threatened to sue me for trespassing on the property.”

Venter also said Maree had never laid a formal charge.

“The SPCA cannot enter a property or confiscate animals without a warrant, which can only be obtained if the complainant lays a formal charge.”

Maree believed his complaints to the SPCA, recorded in their log book, were sufficient, but Venter said Maree was told that charges need to be laid with the police.

“Obviously, if there were any evidence of animal abuse or cruelty the SPCA will lay such a charge,” said Venter, adding that there was no evidence.

Winston Lax, the owner of the animals, denied he neglected his pets. He said three of the dogs belonged to a friend and he was looking after them.

When TotT contacted him on Tuesday he said he was out of town to attend his mother’s funeral, but he had arranged for someone to feed the animals.

“Maree is a meddling old man. He has had a problem with everyone who has rented this property. I feel like going to the police and laying a charge of trespassing on him,” said Lax.

He said Maree had also been in contact with Lax’s boss at the Halyards Hotel where he works.

“He had no right to talk to my boss. What has all this got to do with him? I want him to leave me alone.”

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