National lottery drops SPCA

Some SPCA branches have Horse Care Units, where horses and ponies that have been abandoned
or abused are nursed back to health before being re-homed. (Roxanne Joseph, GroundUp)

A cut in funding from the national lottery has forced the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) to reduce its free services, including the work it does in poor communities.

Since its launch 62 years ago, one of the services it has offered is the care and treatment of beasts of burden, like donkeys, horses and oxen, which many people in rural and other marginalised communities depend on to work the land and for transport, according to a report on GroundUp’s website.

For the past 15 years, the SPCA and its branches across the country have received tens of millions of rands in funding from the National Lottery Commission (NLC).

But in 2017 that funding was cut after the NLC announced a shift in its focus to poverty relief, leaving the SPCA and other animal welfare organisations scrambling to make ends meet.

Marcelle Meredith, the executive director of the National Council of SPCAs, described the decision as “short-sighted and inexcusable” in a statement released at the time the NLC announced the change in its focus.

“We found out via the media that animal welfare organisations were not being considered for funding for 2016/2017,” Meg Wilson, the SPCA’s head of communications, said in an email last month.

Beneficiaries encouraged to ‘find other sources of funding’

The organisation was then informed that applications for funding within the charities sector for 2016/2017 would focus on areas aligned to the National Development Plan (NDP), which “only included helping vulnerable people and crime prevention”.

After writing to the NLC to query the decision and voice its concerns, the SPCA received this reply: “Unfortunately, animal welfare is not one of the focus areas for this year’s open call for applications, and therefore your application will not be accepted this time around. The criteria also exclude some other sectors for this call.”

“Not only does animal welfare affect communities, but the upliftment of animal welfare affects society in totality,” Wilson said, adding that the work the organisation does goes beyond animal welfare.

The NLC responded directly to the SPCA’s concerns with a statement several months after the initial announcement, which encouraged beneficiaries to “find other sources of funding so that they do not build a dependency and an entitlement to NLC funding”.

Animal welfare has once again been excluded from the next round of funding applications (2017/2018), according to an advert on the NLC’s website.

Despite this, the SPCA is applying for funding, according to Wilson.

The SPCA has adoption centres throughout the country. Some of the bigger branches deal with anywhere from 800
to 1 200 adoptions each year, which is much less than the number of animals who come in during that time.
(Roxanne Joseph, GroundUp)

Free services to the poor since 1955

“The [SPCA] does enforce the law and in some of our portfolios, we do prevention and early intervention for the vulnerable.”

The work done by the SPCA and animal welfare organisations may not seem to fit in the category of poverty relief, but the SPCA has been providing free services for the animals of poor people since 1955.

This care is not only aimed at domestic animals; the SPCA also treats and cares for beasts of burden — horses, donkeys and oxen — which their owners use to grow food, earn a living, and for transport.

They also treat cattle, sheep and goats, which people depend on for food and meat.

“Just looking at the impact that the illegal donkey skin trade has on communities, as well as the direct link between violence against animals and humans, the effect that the SPCA has in the work that it does far exceeds just animal welfare,” said Wilson.

The SPCA has adoption centres throughout the country.

The loss of such a significant source of funding has had a major impact on branches across the country, including Grahamstown, Empangeni and King William’s Town. These branches work in multiple rural communities, assisting hundreds of animals each month.

Donkey skin trade ‘detrimental’

In Grahamstown, the organisation works with a large rural community, running outreach programmes, offering vaccinations and sterilisations, visiting schools and meeting with local groups. It also works alongside other welfare organisations and local vets.

“We form connections within the communities to better understand their needs,” said centre manager Mark Thomas.

In the past year the branch has been focused on the trade of donkey skins throughout the area.

The skins are exported to China, where they are in high demand because of pseudo-scientific beliefs about their medical properties.

Thomas described the impact of the trade as “detrimental” because of the reliance of these communities on donkeys for all forms of transport.

The donkey population between Grahamstown and Peddie has been decimated and there are very few donkeys left there.

A large focus of the SPCA’s educational programmes is to teach people living on and around farms how to properly
care for the animals that are often a major source of livelihood for them and their families. (Roxanne Joseph, GroundUp)

‘Animal welfare is inextricably linked to human welfare’

But the SPCA continues to offer support to other communities and their animals, he said.

Sufficient funding has, until now, enabled the organisation — and others like it — to work in communities that are affected by the donkey skin trade, and educate people on how to properly care for their donkeys and farm animals. Communities were also educated on how to spot the signs of a possible trader.

“These donkeys are a massive part of these people’s lives,” said Tara McGovern, a spokesperson for the SPCA Cape of Good Hope branch.

“They are loyal beasts of burden, and are used for vital community activities like transport and trade.”

The decision by the NLC does not make sense because “animal welfare is inextricably linked to human welfare” and the alleviation of poverty, throughout South Africa, she said.

The national lottery has allocated R138m to animal welfare organisations since 2002, which is 1.29% of the total R10.7bn allocated in the charities category of the NLC’s funding.

‘It is a dire time for the organisation’

While NLC funding of the SPCA has varied over the past 15 years, it has remained an important source of financial support for the organisation throughout that time, with an allocation total of R128m.

The SPCA receives no funding from government and relies on lottery funding and the generosity of the public to ensure that it can continue the work it does.

Wilson said: “It is a dire time for the organisation. And although we work tirelessly to raise funds because we know that lottery is not a guarantee, without that funding, it can be detrimental to the organisation.”

The SPCA takes in more than 237 000 animals each year.

In 2017, it responded to more than 42 000 complaints of cruelty. In the past, funding from the lottery has been allocated to buying vehicles that are used to transport animals and reach outlying communities.

The funding is also used for outreach projects, property maintenance and upgrading, veterinary costs, animal handling equipment and salaries, among other expenses.

The lottery has also funded other animal welfare organisations, including The Emma Animal Rescue Society, African Tails and the Animal Anti-Cruelty League.

Source: News 24
Edited: by inFURmation

Potty Training your Puppy

Puppy potty-training often becomes an unnecessary burden to both puppies and their new parents. It creates stress for both parties and can also instil fear in your puppy which should be avoided at all costs. Here are some toilet-training tips that will ensure an easier, more pleasant journey to a house-trained pooch.

What it Takes for the Parent

House-training your fur baby requires immense amounts of patience and consistency on your part, as the parent. Showering them with positive reinforcement for favourable behaviour will also fortify the loving and trusting relationship between the both of you.

House-training can take between 4 – 6 months and in some cases, even up to a year so try to maintain a sense of humour throughout this sensitive process.

Size Matters

Smaller dogs tend to have faster metabolisms and obviously smaller-sized bladders than their larger counterparts, so they’ll need more frequent trips to relieve themselves.

Appropriate Age to Commence

12 – 16 weeks is considered a fitting age for a puppy to start learning where to do their business.

How to Commence

  • Maintain a regular feeding schedule for your puppy and don’t allow them any treats to snack on in between meals as this will set in cause for confusion.
  • Take your puppy outside onto the lawn immediately after a meal. Feeding generally stimulates the digestive system and puppies usually need to urinate approximately 15 minutes after eating. Mother Nature generally calls after your puppy has woken from a nap, so lead them outside to the same spot in the garden to do to their business.
  • Ensure your puppy has gone to the toilet just before you retreat to bed as well as just before you leave them alone for any amount of time.
  • Lead your pup to the same place to relieve themselves every time and stay with them until they’ve completed their task.
  • The most important thing is to make a fuss of your puppy with reassuring praises and scrumptious healthy treats.

Parental Blunders to Avoid

  • By punishing your puppy, you are not only causing them to fear you, which is unacceptable and damaging to the special bond between the two of you, but you’ll jeopardise all the hard work you’ve both put into the house-training process thus far.
  • Using ammonia-based cleaning products will only encourage your puppy to urinate again in the unsolicited area as the scent of these detergents resemble that of urine.
  • Rugs and carpets that bear a resemblance in texture to grass, should be either locked up or closed off from puppy’s reach until house-training is successfully achieved.
  • Set an alarm at intervals during the night to let your puppy outside to relieve themselves. They are too small and too young to go through the entire night without urinating.
  • Laziness on the parent’s part, especially in the middle of the night, is not an option when house-training. Your diligence and hard work will pay off and will swifly speed the process along.
  • Over feeding your pup or feeding them meals at the incorrect times will only stand to confuse them and put the whole system out of sync.
  • It’s unfair to leave your puppy alone for extended periods of time, thereby forcing them to relieve themselves indoors.
  • Exude a calm, patient and supportive attitude throughout the training process. Your intuitive little bundle of fur will pick up if you’re agitated, nervous and impatient with them and this will impede all you have both worked for

Remember that house-training is not a race! It requires patience and empathy from the parent and is also a wonderful opportunity to strengthen your bond with your puppy! By ignoring unfavourable behaviour and reinforcing positive behaviour through encouragement, praise and treats, you’ll be on your merry way to having a house-trained pup in no time!

Written for inFURmation
by Taliah Williamson

Essential Tips to Care for Your Pet’s Teeth

Let’s face it: No matter how much you adore your pup or kitty, her breath can be downright gross at times. But that may mean that she needs more than a good brushing — bad breathcan be a sign that your pet is suffering from gum disease (also known as periodontal disease), which can lead to serious health concerns, ranging from tooth loss to organ damage.

With a majority of adult pets suffering from some degree of periodontal disease, maintaining your pet’s oral hygiene isn’t a luxury — it’s a vital piece of her healthcare routine. Here’s how to keep your pet’s mouth cleaner so you can keep your cat or dog healthier from tooth to tail.

1. Visit Your Veterinarian for Teeth Cleaning

Dental care for dogs and cats should start at your veterinarian’s office. Pets need to be regularly evaluated for the presence of dental tartar and disease and be treated if necessary. The fact is, about 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats over the age of 3 suffer from significant oral disease that requires treatment. Such treatment might include a tooth or multiple teeth being pulled to stop infection and prevent additional health problems.

But your pet’s teeth don’t need to get to this point. When she visits the veterinarian for her annual or six-month examination, the doctor will check her teeth. He or she will be on the lookout for reddened gums, yellow-brown tartar and other signs of dental disease. The doctor also may recommend that your pet gets dental X-rays to check whether there are hidden signs of disease below the gum line and in the bones. Performing a full dental exam and taking X-rays require sedation, but it’s well worth it for the vital information these procedures reveal about your pet’s dental health. If there is any evidence of dental disease, the veterinarian will likely recommend a dental cleaning for your pet.

Just like in human medicine, a thorough dental cleaning involves cleaning your pet’s teeth with a scaler and checking the gums for periodontal “pockets” (areas where the gums have pulled away from the teeth). But unlike people, cats and dogs don’t lay still for their dentist. Therefore, dental cleanings are performed while pets are under general anesthesia. Today’s pet anesthesia is extremely safe and, most often, the health threats of avoiding dental cleanings far outweigh the threat of anesthesia complications.

On average, dogs and cats benefit from dental cleaning once a year starting at the age of 3, but every pet needs his or her own individual dental program. Some cats and dogs might need less frequent cleanings, others more. Your veterinarian will work with you to decide what’s best for your pet.

2. Brush Your Pet’s Teeth Every Day 

Another important component to staving off dental disease is at-home care. While it’s critical to follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for getting your pet’s teeth cleaned in the clinic, the best thing you can do to at home to promote good oral hygiene is to brush your pet’s teeth — daily. Doing it every few days or once a week isn’t enough, because the bacteria that cause dental disease can recolonize on the tooth surface in a period of 24 to 36 hours. Daily brushing may sound daunting, but it’s completely doable, even on finicky cats.

Start with the basic tools: a soft-bristled toothbrush (ideally, one specifically for pets) or a finger brush and toothpaste. Be sure to use toothpaste specially formulated for pets, since toothpaste for people is designed to be spit out and can be harmfulto cats and dogs when swallowed.

Next, place a small amount of toothpaste on your finger and let your pet sniff and lick it. If there’s positive interest in the flavor of the toothpaste, use it. If your pet isn’t interested in the toothpaste, it’s OK to brush her teeth without it (several flavors are available, so you can always try a different one next time). Hold the toothbrush at a 45º angle to the tooth surface with the bristles pointing toward the gums. Work the toothbrush in a circular motion, concentrating on the outside surfaces of the teeth — and don’t forget the cheek teeth in the back. Go slowly, aiming to spend a total of 30 seconds on each side of the mouth.

And be patient. If you haven’t brushed your pet’s teeth before, you may need to start by simply getting your cat or dog used to having her mouth touched. Then you can gradually work up to longer brushing sessions. While most pets eventually can be acclimated to enjoying (or at least not resisting) having their teeth brushed, some pets are more resistant than others.

3. Feed Your Pet a Special Dental Diet if Recommended

There are several commercial diets that have been shown to improve your pet’s periodontal health compared to regular dry food diets. These dental foods work by using a specialized kibble to provide better mechanical cleansing of the teeth. Ask your veterinarian if a special dental diet is right for your pet.

4. Offer Appropriate Chew Treats 

Some treats are designed to help keep your cat’s or dog’s teeth cleaner. Look for products that carry the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal. This seal signifies products that meet pre-set standards of effectiveness when it comes to controlling plaque and tartar in dogs and cats. While products that lack the VOHC seal certainly may work, you can be confident that products that have earned the seal are truly effective. It’s also helpful to know which treats you should probably avoid. For example, treatslike cow hooves, pig’s ears and real bones can damage your pet’s teeth or cause other serious problems if ingested. Also, as much as your pooch may love playing catch with a tennis ball, the yellow/green spheres are notorious for causing mechanical wearing of the tooth surface. If possible, offer your dog nonabrasive balls or toys. Not sure which toys are safe? Check with your vet.

Keeping your pet’s teeth cleaner requires a commitment on your part. Your veterinary healthcare team will do its part by performing regular oral examinations and recommending dental cleanings as needed. As for you, about one minute of tooth brushing a day and the right food and treats will help keep your pet’s pearly whites a shining example of health — so the rest of her body will be, too.

Signs of Dental Disease

Keeping a watchful eye on your pet’s teeth will help you catch problems early. The following are the most common signs of oral disease:

  • Yellow-brown tartar
  • Bleeding gums
  • Red, inflamed gums
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty chewing/dropping food when trying to eat
  • Excessive drooling
  • Change in eating habits
  • Pawing at the mouth or rubbing the face against the floor or furniture 

Source: Vet Street

Flea and Tick Prevention in Dogs

Ticks and fleas are not only a nuisance, they also pose a risk to your pooch’s health and well-being. Read on to find out all you need to know about keeping these pesky bugs away from your furry loved ones.

Signs your Dog has Ticks or Fleas

Incessant scratching and excessive grooming are indications that your dog may have fleas.

Your pooch is likely to have ticks if they’re shaking their head a lot, has a fever or unexplained scabs on their skin. Ticks are normally either visible to the naked eye or can be felt in the fur, particularly after feeding, although some tick species are much smaller and more challenging to see.

Dangers Associated with Ticks and Fleas

  1. Dogs may develop severe allergic reactions to flea bites and in some instances, can react to even a solitary bite. This flea-related skin disease is called flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) and in acute cases, can result in prolonged scratching and gnawing that harms the skin and causes severe inflammation. FAD can also trigger secondary bacterial and fungal infections.
  2. In severe infestations, these blood-sucking insects can sometimes consume so much blood that your dog becomes anemic and lethargic. In extreme cases, dogs can die from an infestation, particularly if it concerns vulnerable dogs such as puppies, old dogs or dogs with pre-existing health issues.
  3. Fleas are also carriers of other parasites such as tapeworms and various bacterial infections.
  4. Ticks are responsible for transmitting critical diseases to their hosts, such as tick bite fever and biliary.


  1. Treatment using the available medical options:
  • Spot-on treatments

Spot-on treatments are applied monthly, usually between your pooch’s shoulder blades. Spot-on treatments are reasonably priced, simple to apply, effective in preventing ticks and fleas from feeding on your dog as well as exterminating them when they attempt to do so.

  • Sprays and Powders

Spraying ensures ticks and fleas are killed instantly. Alcohol-based sprays are efficient, but they can have undesirable side-effects. Some sprays can be used in conjunction with topical treatments, whilst others can be applied between dipping.

  • Oral Control

Oral medications, in the forms of a tablet or liquid, ensure your dog’s whole body is protected from ticks and fleas for extended periods of time. However, there has been a lot of controversy around the side-effects of oral tick and flea control, so chat to your vet about this option as well as the recommended dosages. Read the indications very carefully and take heed of what you learn.

  • Dipping

This involves diluting a concentrated solution (typically consisting of pyrethrin) with water and pouring it over the dog’s body. The mixture must air-dry and must not be rinsed off.

  • Flea Collars

Flea collars contain a flea and tick-repellent chemical that spreads over the pooch’s body and will safeguard your fur ball for a few months. Although they are reasonably priced, they may agitate your pet and are known to emit quite an intense odor.

  • Flea Shampoos

This is a short-term option for washing away adult fleas and larvae. Ensure the shampoo bonds with the skin by leaving it to soak into the coat for approximately 10-15 minutes prior to rinsing.

  1. The following natural options are also available for alternative pooch protection:
  • Gently massage a small amount of freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice onto your dog’s coat as citrus is known to repel fleas. CAUTION: THIS MODE OF PREVENTION SHOULD NOT BE USED ON CATS.
  • Visit a garden store and enquire about natural predators, such as lady bugs and fire ants, that can inhabit your garden and feed off both flea larvae and adult fleas.
  • Applying moderate amounts of geranium or cedar wood oil to your pooch’s collar will naturally ward off ticks and fleas. CAUTION: THIS MODE OF PREVENTION SHOULD NOT BE USED ON CATS.
  • A few drops of lavender, citronella, eucalyptus, pennyroyal oil etc. can be added to your pooch’s bath to deter fleas. CAUTION: ANY ESSENTIAL OIL IS NOT RECOMMENDED FOR USE ON CATS.

NB!!! Always consult with your veterinarian about the various tick and flea prevention and control options available as well as when and how to administer them correctly. Most of these options should not be administered on puppies under 6 weeks old.

  1. Control Ticks and Fleas in your Home
  • Treat all pets in your household for ticks and fleas.
  • Meticulously vacuum all carpets, your and your dog’s bedding, upholstery and curtains.
  • Wash all rugs, bedding, throws and any removable fabrics at the hottest temperature they can undergo without being damaged.
  • Use approved insecticides and insect growth regulators (IGR) to terminate the next life cycle of flea eggs and larvae.
  • Foggers can be used to eradicate ticks and fleas found below the surface of carpets.
  • Ensure that you regularly check for ticks and fleas on your dog as described below:

Checking for Ticks and Fleas:

  • Thoroughly check your dog for ticks and fleas daily, especially in warmer months.
  • Ticks and fleas can appear anywhere on your dog’s body but are typically found on the head, ears, neck and paw regions.
  • Feel along your dog’s entire skin surface, as you’re more likely to feel a tick before you see one.
  • Flea dirt is faecal matter passed by fleas which they subsequently leave on your dog’s fur and skin. The possibility of your pooch having fleas is high if a metal comb is run thoroughly through their coat and you notice black pepper-like specks either on the comb or the surface under which the dog is placed. Live fleas can then be drowned in soapy water.
  • Ticks should be removed as close enough to your dog’s mouths as possible, without the use of your fingers! Press gently but firmly until the tick detaches itself. Never use fire-igniting materials for tick removal as it can severely agitate or burn your pooch’s skin. If you’re not comfortable removing the ticks or fleas yourself, ask your vet for support in removing them.
  1. Control Ticks and Fleas in your Outdoor Environment
  • Erect boundaries around your property to keep other flea or tick infested animals from entering your premises.
  • Mow your lawn on a regular basis and keep your bushes neatly trimmed.
  • Remove any leaf litter and organic waste as ticks thrive in moist environments.
  • Tightly secure garbage bins so rubbish is out of reach of stray animals that are potential carriers of ticks and fleas.
  • Avoid walking your dog in long grass and keep them out of wooded spaces.
  • Using a pesticide in your garden is also an option, however, be sure to follow the instructions carefully or get a professional to carry out the fumigation for you.

FYI – For Your Infurmation:

Tick and flea control treatments for dogs must never be used on cats as they can be extremely poisonous to our feline fur friends and vice versa.

Written for inFURmation
by Taliah Williamson