Uitenhage SPCA halts adoptions from Port Elizabeth

Death sentence for pups and kittens?

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About 70 puppies and kittens are at risk of being put down after the Uitenhage Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) stopped the adoption of animals younger than five months by Port Elizabeth residents.
Pictures of the cute, young animals were published on the Uitenhage SPCA’s social media pages at the weekend, with an advisory that they could only be adopted by people who live in Uitenhage and Despatch.
The organisation has admitted that the likelihood of finding new homes for all the puppies and kittens in its care has diminished with the implementation of the rule and that its euthanasia rate will increase drastically.
Uitenhage SPCA management committee chair Deirdre Swift said they had been flouting the organisation’s constitution for years in a desperate attempt to curb the number of animals being put down.
Animal rights activists, who fear the new practice will boost backyard breeding, urged the Uitenhage SPCA to call an extraordinary general meeting and change its constitution.
“If people want a puppy, they want a puppy,” PE Animal Rescue’s Estelle Timms said.
Timms said it was the worst decision the Uitenhage SPCA could make.
“Almost all the strays are dropped off there. Any dogs confiscated by municipal dog control go there.”
She said the last she had checked there were between 700 and 1,000 dogs being dropped off there each month.
“Obviously, many are being put to sleep. I understand that,” Timms said.
“But the truth is that not everybody wants an adult dog.
“If someone wants a puppy, they want a puppy.
“Many people want a dog to grow up with their children.
“If they can’t adopt a puppy from the SPCA, they will go to breeders – this will increase the number of backyard breeders.
“The municipal bylaws will end up meaning nothing.
“Tomorrow, I am phoning dog control to find out if they are aware of this decision.
“So the people of Port Elizabeth are good enough to pay towards the rates that go to the Uitenhage SPCA but not good enough to home their puppies and kittens.
“There are simply not enough homes in Uitenhage and Despatch,” she said.
Timms, who rescues older dogs, has been helping municipal dog control to get the female dogs sterilised.
“I would usually let dog control take the puppies but, after this, I won’t be able to help anymore because it would mean we are sending those puppies to their deaths.
“I am sure it will be a big problem for dog control because they are not allowed to take animals to another shelter.”
Animal rights activist Suzette Ludeke said: “Port Elizabeth residents are the major donors to the SPCA.
“They are always ready to help but now, suddenly, they are not good enough to adopt kittens and puppies.”
She said close to 500 people had voted in an online poll she opened over the weekend.
“The majority have voted against this decision.”
Swift said the decision they had been forced to take was heartbreaking.
“The Uitenhage SPCA is and always has been very grateful and appreciative of the support it receives from all residents of the metro.
“While we are aware that the demographics of the municipalities have changed and that officially there is no segregation between the areas of Uitenhage, Despatch and Port Elizabeth, our approved area of operation as stated in our constitution and recognised and approved by our national body is limited to Uitenhage and Despatch,” she said.
“This means that all animals adopted out to any other area need to be old enough to be sterilised. Our vets only sterilise animals that are five months or older.
“Though we are the municipal pound and, as a result, have many younger animals available for adoption and a strict sterilisation policy in place, the Uitenhage SPCA has been in contravention of our approved operation area by previously homing puppies and kittens to the Port Elizabeth area.
“We apologise for the distress being caused by our actions and trust that we have your understanding.
“We appeal to all other welfare organisations in the Port Elizabeth area to assist residents by taking in puppies and kittens and making them available for adoption.
“It is a difficult situation for us.
“We get more animals than any other organisation and our put-to-sleep rates are already sky high.
“We were trying to save lives.”
She said animal breeding was out of control in the Bay.
“It is inevitable that we will run out of space and more animals will be put down.”
Veteran cat rescuer Megan Kelly said she was devastated.“Why must more animals die because of a piece of paper?” she asked.“I say change the constitution as this decision is going to dramatically increase the euthanasia rate of animals that have not been homed.“I have been with many animals in their last moments and it is horrific looking into their eyes as they fade away.“Imagine those being led to the ‘death chamber’ on their own.”Swift said morale at the Uitenhage SPCA was low.“This is very tough for all of us. We tried to give the animals in our care a chance,” she said.However, she cautioned that the national SPCA should not be blamed for the debacle.“It is a serious issue and it was our mistake. The national body did nothing wrong.”There is no geographical restriction on the adoption of animals older than five months.Animal Welfare Society Port Elizabeth manager Hannes Stander said people who wanted to adopt kittens or puppies could come to them.“I don’t understand the decision of the Uitenhage SPCA because Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage are so close,” he said.“I do want to encourage people though to adopt an adult animal – some of our most successful adoptions have involved older animals.”Neither of the municipal spokespersons responded to requests for comment on whether dog control had been informed of the SPCA decision.Karen Theron, from the Nine Lives Cat Foundation, questioned why the rule was being implemented so hastily.“If this is being done in the best interest of the animals, then people should not be too quick to [judge],” she said.She said fewer adoptions meant more animals being put down and higher running costs.

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