Why should you support the sterilization of dogs and cats?
The answer is simple. It significantly reduces suffering and it significantly reduces the animal welfare bill.
A huge proportion of cats and dogs in our region, and indeed across the country, do not have homes, and many that do have homes are inadequately cared for. Two factors contribute to this undesirable situation. The first is the uncontrolled breeding of cats and dogs. The second is a widespread ignorance about appropriate animal care. The combined effect of these two factors is the extensive suffering of cats and dogs that we witness regularly in our communities.
It is for this reason that Cluny Animal Trust, a Community Veterinary Welfare, focuses primarily on the sterilization of cats and dogs, and on advancing specific and appropriate knowledge and skills about animal care in our indigent communities.
Increase sterilizations, decrease euthanasia!
There are a large number of NGOs throughout the country whose focus in the animal welfare arena is on rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming. This is an extremely difficult and costly task, as there are too many animals that require this service and too few homes that are in a position to adopt or are appropriate for adoption. As a consequence many animals remain in foster environments or in kennels for years with little hope of finding forever homes.
In the USA annual statistics have been maintained on the impact of the mass sterilization programmes that have been expanding across the country for the last two to three decades. The statistics show an encouraging decline in the euthanasia of dogs and cats in direct relation to the increase in sterilizations.
At this year’s World Spay Day sterilization clinic on 23 February in Bohlokong, a township adjacent to Bethlehem, Cluny Animal Trust was faced with a typical dilemma and one that encompasses the factors that contribute to the suffering of dogs in particular.
A large plastic bucket containing 11 tiny puppies..
An elderly township resident arrived at the clinic with a large plastic bucket containing 11 tiny puppies, and a mother dog in tow. She was attempting to sell the puppies, which were between two and three weeks old, to Cluny Animal Trust. She said that the puppies from previous litters had died before she could sell them. She was resistant to the suggestion that she consider having the mother dog sterilized.
Poverty contributes enormously to animal neglect and cruelty. There is still a strong belief in township communities that selling puppies is a potential livelihood. Even if the puppies survive and are sold, these owners do not have the funds to pay for vaccinations or parasite control, and as a consequence contribute to the spread of diseases, as well as to the costs of animal welfare. Furthermore, these animals are often more susceptible to contracting diseases due to compromised natural defences through malnutrition.
The difficulty Cluny Animal Trust faces when dealing with cases like the above is that intervention cannot legally take place without the consent of the owner. The owner and the veterinary welfare often have conflicting objectives and, unless there is a case with sufficient weight to report to an authority like the local SPCA, the owner’s rights stand. In this case the owner took her puppies and the mother dog home, which was the appropriate action in the immediate circumstances, as the puppies were still dependent on their mother’s milk. Jan Sander, Cluny’s Animal Welfare Assistant, took down details with the intention to follow up on the case, hoping for at least an agreement to sterilize once the puppies were weaned.
Sterilization is the easy part –
Sterilization is the easy part in the work of Cluny Animal Trust. Gaining consent to sterilize is a lot more difficult. Due to Cluny’s limited impact on Bohlokong township thus far, in comparison with Kgubetswana and Mashaeng in the Clarens and Fouriesburg areas where clinics have been operating for a number of years, the poor turnout for sterilizations at Bohlokong on World Spay Day was not surprising. Although 60 sterilizations were planned for and additional funds raized provided for another eight sterilizations, only 22 sterilizations were carried out on the day. This was not a direct reflection on the work done at the clinic on the day. Many more potential clients were either approached or came to the clinic of their own accord. This contact and interest by residents is vital, giving Cluny personnel the opportunity to engage these individuals and start the process of creating awareness around the welfare of township dogs and cats, with specific focus on sterilizations.
Due to the fact that funds for another 46 sterilizations were still available after the clinic, Dr Barker made the decision to use these funds for sterilization-specific clinics to be held at Kgubetswana, Mashaeng and Qwa Qwa in the near future, as well as at a second clinic in Bohlokong.
In addition to sterilizations and education, Cluny also attends to injured and ill animals on a welfare basis, and runs clinics for parasite control purposes, which include dipping for ticks and fleas, and deworming. Vaccinations are also given.
Interested in adopting a dog or a cat?
Although Cluny Animal Trust is a Community Veterinary Welfare, and not a rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming welfare, there are occasions when it falls to Cluny to rehome animals that have come into their care. Please look at the website and facebook page if you are interested in adopting a dog or a cat.
All Cluny’s work is dependent on donations, sponsorships, bequests and fundraising events. For further information, or if you wish to donate, please go to the website or facebook page, or contact Cluny as follows:
Dr Katherine Barker: 0827886287
Jan Sander: 0782462553
text & photos by Mary Walker, 13 May 2016