New bill could see testing of cosmetics on animals banned

New bill could see testing of cosmetics on animals banned

File picture: Armennano/Pixabay

Cape Town – Beauty Without Cruelty (BWC) South Africa has initiated an amendment to the Animal Protection Act that would ban cosmetics testing on animals.

Chairperson Toni Brockhoven said it believed some cosmetics houses have been lying to the public about testing on animals.

She said there was an assumption that animal testing for cosmetics does not take place in South Africa.

But because of a loophole in the system, although products might not be tested on animals, the ingredients might be, she said.

BWC hopes to prohibit the sale and manufacture of cosmetics final products and ingredients which were tested on animals in South Africa and to criminalise the testing of cosmetics on animals.

“Every single brand on the market says that they do not test on animals. Even if you look in the small print, it says sometimes they have to comply with local laws. They are choosing to use the ingredients which by law need to be animal-tested,” said Brockhoven.

The animal rights group is concerned that as other countries around the world begin to shut down cosmetic testing on animals, businesses will flock to SA to carry out tests.

The organisation stressed that there are many established, reliable, cost-effective, non-animal methods which are modern and reliable.

Animal testing does not work and does not save human lives, said Brockhoven.

BWC started the new year by reinvigorating the proposal and submission of the private member’s amendment bill related to the animal testing ban that will be gazetted in the first half of this year.

The proposal carried out by former ACDP leader Cheryllyn Dudley in 2017 was on behalf of the animal rights group.

The animal rights activists aim to amend the Animals Protection Act of 1962 and the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act of 1972.

The ACDP’s Steve Swart said the private member’s bill needed to be introduced again due to being put on the back-burner.

“The ACDP caucus agreed that I could continue with this work. I had discussions with parliamentary advisers who assisted in finalising a new draft bill.

“I trust that the bill will be supported by all political parties as we understand that no cosmetic testing takes place in South Africa,” he said.

South Africa spokesperson for Lush Kate Lynch told the Weekend Argus that the business did not accept animal testing.

She said it maintained and upheld a policy of not testing cosmetics on animals.

“Through our interactions with our customers both in stores and via social media we are aware just how important this policy is to South Africans and how much significance is placed on this value,” she said.

According to a MAC Cosmetics representative, the company does not own any animal-testing facilities and had never asked others to test on animals for them.

However, it admitted that some governments conducted animal testing to prove safety before they would allow the cosmetics company to distribute its products.

“MAC has never tested on animals and we continue to be a leader in the movement to end animal testing globally,” said the representative.

It said none of its products in South Africa sold through authorised channels had been tested on animals.

Beauty blogger Lauren Niekerk, also known as @Glossgurublog on Instagram, didn’t agree with testing beauty products on animals.

She said before she began blogging she had had very little idea as to which brands tested on animals and which were cruelty-free.

“After taking the initiative I realised the extent of just how cruel animal testing is and made a choice to try and change to cruelty-free products,” she said.

Source: IOL

Pet sitters caught on camera abusing dog while Hermanus owner was away

Pet sitters caught on camera abusing dog while Hermanus owner was away

The house sitters were aware that there was a home camera system, says pet lover Zelda la Grange, who now wants to take action to regulate the industry. Stock photo. Image: 123RF/PIXINOO

The National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) is investigating a case of animal abuse after a dog owner released camera footage of her dog sitters abusing her seven-month-old boxer pup.

Two pet sitters are depicted in the video, first appearing to hit the dog, called Hector, before one of them grabs the pet by its skin and violently flings him out of the house through an open door.

Hector’s owner, Mel Coltman, had found the pair through a Hermanus community Facebook group when she asked for recommendations for a reputable dog sitting service.

In the video a man appears to hit the dog with a stick several times while shouting at it. A female can also be heard speaking to the dog in Afrikaans, appearing to be upset with it for coming into the house, saying: “Really now, Hector! You’ve been outside the whole time!”

After she says this, the man picks up the dog by the skin on its back and neck before throwing it through the air out of the door.

Neither responded to WhatsApp messages or phone calls made by TimesLIVE.

In a video posted on her Facebook page just after midnight, Coltman wrote the caption: “House and Pet Sitting WARNING”.

“I feel obligated to warn people using this couple as pet sitters after very disturbing video footage that we saw of how they treated our seven-month-old boxer puppy while we were away this weekend,” read the post.

“This is just a short clip, but not the only one where our poor Hector gets repeatedly beaten. Please feel free to contact me via Messenger should you want more information,” she said in the post.

When contacted by TimesLIVE later on Wednesday, Coltman said she would not be able to comment until she had finalised her affidavit regarding the incident.

“At this stage we are busy with legal processes and I have been advised to wait until that is concluded before taking on interviews or answering publicly to the details around this incident,” she said.

The NSPCA told TimesLIVE that they were “absolutely appalled at this despicable act of violence against an innocent animal”.

“There is no excuse for committing such a crime. Perpetrators of the Animals Protection Act are liable to punishment of a fine, imprisonment, or both,” said NSPCA spokesperson Keshvi Nair. “We are hopeful that our judicial system will hand down a sentence that is befitting for this atrocious act, and that the vile humans in the video will be denied ownership of animals in the future.”

Nair encouraged the public to report cruelty against any animal to their local SPCA or the NSPCA if there is no local society in their area.

“When reporting a complaint, pictures and videos are extremely useful and can assist with conviction. The public is assured that their details will be kept confidential when reporting a complaint,” she said.

Zelda la Grange, who was private secretary to former president Nelson Mandela, said she reached out to Coltman after seeing the video on a community Facebook group and decided to get involved.

“She put a post on the community group saying she’s looking for a reliable dog sitter. A bunch of people sent names, because everyone and their mother is a dog sitter these days, and then she got two recommendations from people who recommended these dog sitters,” said La Grange.

“They started using these people on and off over the past six weeks. She became aware at one stage that the dog was a little timid but she said it was nothing strange. She didn’t even notice it at the time, it’s only upon thinking back that she’s realised it.”

She said the pair first came to Coltman’s home to meet the dog. “They knew the dog was young, they knew there was a camera in the home, they knew there were cameras around the house, and they agreed to dog sit,” she said.

La Grange said the incident took place at the weekend when Coltman and her partner decided to go away for the weekend.

“When they got home yesterday they checked the footage because the dog was not looking itself. That’s when they came across this. That which you are seeing is a fraction of what was recorded. It was continuous beating with a belt,” said La Grange.

She said the dog did not appear to have done anything wrong, but the house sitters allegedly told Coltman that the dog snapped at them.

“But the [footage shows the] dog is trying to hide, it’s submissive and they just carry on [beating it]. It’s obvious that these young people said they could be dog sitters but they know very little about dog behaviour and obviously can’t handle a young boxer pup.”

She said the purpose of the social media posts, both by her and Coltman, was to make people aware of the conduct of the dog sitters so they don’t hire them in that capacity.

She said the video had since gone viral in the Hermanus community and people were extremely angry at the pair.

“I’m afraid that people may do harm to the dog sitters, which also isn’t the solution. I just told people last night to please calm down,” said La Grange.

She said lawyers have already come forward with a pro bono offer to help Coltman depose an affidavit and give her legal advice. La Grange said she wanted to use the opportunity to find a way to regulate the dog sitting industry.

“There’s no law to regulate this, there’s not going to be any law and it’s not a priority, so we need to find a different way to regulate it. Myself and a few friends who love dogs have decided to start doing something to get people verified so that not just anyone who wants can just become a dog sitter, or at the very least get training,” she said.

La Grange said she had also decided to get a therapist for the dog to treat the trauma caused by the abuse.

Source: Talk of the Town

Helping your pet on their weight loss journey

Helping your pet on their weight loss journey

“He’s not overweight, he’s just a little bit round.” “It’s puppy fat”, or “Shame he’s just growing into himself.” These are some of the excuses pet parents lovingly make for their ‘on the higher end of the scale’ fur babies. “Pet parents take pride and joy in knowing the love and attention they give their pets can be seen by others,” says Marycke Ackhurst, pet behaviour expert from Hill’s Pet Nutrition. Hearing your pet is overweight can be more heart-breaking than hearing it about yourself. 

When it comes to loving our pets, we often think that the more we treat them with food, the more we love them. “However, when that attention is too much food and not enough exercise, then it can become a weight problem which can lead to serious health issues.” In fact, 50% of pets are overweight, but alarmingly 90% of pet parents don’t even realise this.

With lockdown recently hitting the one-year mark, and many of our lives having been reduced to just our homes, we’ve become a lot more sedentary, which has filtered down to our pets too. It’s a challenge to motivate ourselves to get up and get active, let alone our pets. However, as Ackhurst explains, exercising your pet doesn’t have to be time consuming and can very easily fit into your daily life. Plus, it will be time well spent. Besides the fitness aspect, spending time with our pets releases those much-needed endorphins. 

Ackhurst recommends trying to incorporate the following:

For dogs

  • Instead of a leisurely stroll, why not pick up the pace a little and get your and your dog’s heart rate going, which will help the extra-layers melt away? Adding a little ‘resistance training’ by walking on different surfaces or climbing over tree trunks or benches is also recommended. Remember to be responsible when walking your dog – pet parents should always ensure they walk their dogs in an area that is dog friendly and if your dog does not play well with others please ensure that he is on a leash.   
  • Do you have stairs at home? Get your dog to follow you up and down them a few times a day. If they need some persuasion, throw their favourite toy up and down the stairs, creating a fun game. Remember to alternate arms so that you can get a good arm workout in the process.
  • If you have access to a swimming pool, dam, river or the beach, and your dog is water happy, this is a great way to get them to exercise and have fun at the same time. Never leave your pet in water unattended and ensure they know how to get out by themselves should they need to. Swimming is great exercise for older pets, as it puts less impact on their joints. 
  • If your dog is a good walker, take him with you when you go jogging or cycling as long as it is in a safe environment for him to do so. 
  • If your dog’s fitness is a little questionable, why not build them up to a jog or cycle with you by increasing distance and speed over time? Always make sure this is done in a safe environment and don’t allow your dog off his leash in traffic-heavy areas. Even the most well-trained dogs can become frightened.

For cats

  • Cats love toys and playing, so having these easily accessible encourages her to play and keep active. Some great options are balls, ping pong balls, or even a scrunched-up piece of paper. A wand, cat tickler and high scratch post encourages hunting, running, and jumping. 
  • Boxes are also entertaining for cats. You can place these around the house and encourage them to climb in and out of an empty box. 
  • Many cats love playing hide and seek. Hide their toy and have them run through the house to find it. Your cat will love this quality time with you and won’t even realise they are exercising. 
  • When feeding your cat, change her feeding place on a regular basis so that she can ‘hunt’ for her food. Placing the food on a raised area will also make her work that little bit harder.      

Ackhurst adds that there are ways for pet parents to reward their pets, even using food, but at the same time reducing their intake. This can be done by dividing their daily food intake into:

  • Slow feeders
  • Food dispensing toys
  • Set aside a portion of their daily meals intake to use for training and as treats – divide your pet’s daily food allocation into three parts.  One part can be used as training treats, stimulating their minds, and helping with a more mannered dog.  Use the second part of the food allocation in a food enrichment toy around mealtime and, the remaining part can be used as usual in a bowl. Remember, the brain also requires energy use and it really helps to enhance your relationship with your pet.

Exercising your pet means you are dedicated to their health, spending time with them, and their overall wellbeing. However, before you start any new exercise regime be sure to consult your vet and start your pet off slowly to ease them into their new active lifestyle. “There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration before adding new exercises, such as their age, fitness level and breed. Some pets are not able to handle certain types of exercise, but will thrive on others,” says Ackhurst.

For more information on pet obesity, weight management and the success thousands of pets have enjoyed on the Hill’s Pet Slimmer Programme visit

Source: Hills Pet Nutrition 

New jumbo-sized Megachews from Montego Pet Nutrition

New jumbo-sized Megachews from Montego Pet Nutrition

Training sessions and often-dreaded visits to the vet can now end on a much happier note for your dogs with Montego Pet Nutrition’s new Bags O’ Wags Megachews.

These mighty treats are an extension of the Bags O’ Wags range and are ideal for larger dog breeds. The 30cm jumbo-sized, nutritious treats are extra-long and extra-delicious making them an excellent reward for good behaviour, the perfect incentive when training or a between-meal-snack.

These tasty treats are available in three variants: Bacon Flavoured Spare Ribs, offering a chewie outer layer of goodness, Beef Flavoured Marrow Bones with a soft and meaty centre, and Butternut Flavoured Sticks, which double up as the ultimate teeth-cleaning treat.

Montego Chews













“Dogs of different ages and sizes have different nutritional requirements, and we aim to cater to all of them. Megachews are not only fun, tasty treats, they are packed with all the nutritional goodness that is essential for the health and growth of larger dogs,” said Wilfred Cawood, Marketing Manager at Montego Pet Nutrition.

The jumbo-sized treats can be purchased at a RRP of R19.00 each. Visit  for more information.

Source: Montego

Pets bring much needed emotional support this International Day of Happiness

Pets emotional support

Pets bring much needed emotional support this International Day of Happiness

For many of us stress and anxiety are a way of daily life but since the onset of COVID-19 and with-it lockdowns, social distancing, and a total change of our norms there has been a dramatic increase.  “The emotional effects of the pandemic will only be fully evident and understood in years to come, but what we do know right now is that many adults and children are struggling,” says Marycke Ackhurst, pet behaviour expert from Hill’s Pet Nutrition. 

The emotional support that dogs and cats provide can help adults and children to manage stress, anxiety, depression, ease loneliness, as well as encouraging physical activity and playing. Ackhurst says, “Our pets provide unconditional love and support, especially when we interact with them, and even though we should celebrate them every day, life sometimes just gets in the way. So, this International Day of Happiness, celebrated on 20th March, why not recognise your furry friend and how they not only bring happiness to your home but also provide much needed emotional support.

Ackhurst gives some examples on how your pets can provide emotional support as well as how to celebrate International Day of Happiness with your pet that will benefit both of you:

  • Take your dog for a walk. Physical exercise releases endorphins – our happy hormone and Vitamin D, which we get from the sun, has been linked to helping combat depression.  On the flip side, the exercise is good for your dog too and they will love the quality time with you.   
  • Oxytocin, sometimes referred to as the ‘cuddle chemical’, helps increase feelings of trust, relaxation, and empathy, while reducing stress and anxiety. Spending time with your pet and cuddling them will help your brain to start producing Oxytocin.
  • For those of us who are not doing in-person gatherings or are unable to be with our loved ones due to travel restrictions, why not schedule a virtual family picnic in the garden? If you are seeing one another, choose a dog-friendly park to meet for some much-needed human interaction. The open space is better from a COVID-safety perspective and your dogs can have a playdate too.  
  • For cats almost anything can be turned into a game, from chasing after a catnip-filled toy mouse, to simply tying string to an empty toilet roll and pulling it along the floor for them to catch. 
  • Do your own family photoshoot, without the stress of a professional photographer. Get each family member to come up with a different concept, from a colour theme, funny faces, different poses and of course one with your furry family members too. Nominate someone as the photographer or set-up a tripod and just have fun. The more natural the photos are the better! 

In October 2020 The World Health Organisation released a study showing that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide, while the demand for mental health is increasing. Finding ways to help yourself, family members and friends is important for us all during these difficult times. 

International Day Of Happiness pets

For more from Hill’s visit 

Source: Hills

COVID-19 fuels pet obesity

COVID-19 fuels pet obesity

COVID-19 has had a profound effect on all of us including our pets, with recent research* undertaken in the US revealing that more than 71% of pet professionals say that the pandemic has impacted the way our pets are eating. As a result of this, over 30% of pet parents surveyed who have an overweight pet, say that their pet has become overweight since the start of the pandemic. Many of us have an emotional relationship with food so it is not surprising that we have developed this for our pets too during these tough times when we are spending more time at home.  

50% of pets are overweight, but alarmingly 90% of pet parents don’t even realise this. For many pet parents the love for their pets is associated with food. “This ‘Love your pet day’ celebrated on 20th February, Hill’s Pet Nutrition is drawing attention to pet obesity and that, contrary to popular belief, your pet’s love for you is not associated with food,” says Marycke Ackhurst pet behaviour expert from Hill’s.  

Food is often seen as a means of emotional support – using food as a reward, when we are feeling depressed, lonely or celebrating. Pet parents get an emotional boost when feeding or giving treats to their pet. Our pet’s reaction is seen as a display of love and affection, and we are afraid that changing our pet’s feeding habits could result in our pet not loving us as much.  

“Having an emotional relationship with food can both create the problem of pet obesity and ultimately solve it by changing what’s in their bowl,” says Ackhurst, “food is actually love, and one of the easiest steps is to start with better nutrition and to be more aware of your feeding habits and the impact these have on your pet.” 

So, what would you give-up to help your pet lose weight? A recent survey undertaken by Hill’s showed that:

  • 49% of pet parents said they would be willing to go on a diet to help their pet lose weight, 
  • while 31% said they would be willing to stop checking their social media for a month to help their pet lose weight. 

In addition, vets advise pet parents of the following to help manage their pet’s weight:

  • 92% say that giving fewer treats will help dog and cats lose weight,
  • 91% say that exercise is an important element, and
  • 49% agree with pet parents that keeping their pets at a healthy weight now, during the pandemic, is harder than ever before.

“Hill’s has always been committed to ending pet obesity and helping our pet parents give their pets a healthy long life while still being able to express their love,” says Ackhurst. “If you are unsure as to whether your pet is overweight, visit your vet, who will then do a weight check and advise you on the best steps to take should your pet be overweight.”

For more information on pet obesity, weight management and the success thousands of pets have enjoyed on the Hill’s Pet Slimmer Programme visit

COVID-19 fuels pet obesity

Source: Hills

The Cape’s most venomous snakes, and what to do when you see one

The Cape’s most venomous snakes, and what to do when you see one

Vibrant Black and Yellow Puff Adder

We spoke to reptile and amphibian expert and photographer Tyrone Ping about the snakes of the Cape, and what to do should you encounter one.

When are snakes most likely to be out and about? 

Typically, the peak in snake activity coincides with the warmer temperatures towards the end of spring and well into summer which is well known as “snake season”, so November through to March. This is when many other animals are reproducing and birds are nesting, and so do the snakes, which means their activity increase.

However, the Puff Adders In the Western Cape mate during the winter months so they may still be seen regularly during winter. Contrary to popular belief, snakes will typically avoid the hottest times of the day, so they may be seen basking in the early mornings and late afternoons, seeking shade or venture in holes during the hotter part of the dry summer days.

In which environments should Capetonians be most alert for snakes?

With Cape Town being nestled between mountains its not uncommon for many walkers and hikers to come across snakes. Fynbos is so dense and usually difficult to notice snakes in, so the chances of seeing snake are quite slim. They are usually only noticed at the last minute as it crosses the path in front of you or quickly darts off into the bushes. Anywhere you can find open, well-vegetated spaces, trees and natural habitat, there is a good chance you may find snakes there.

What should someone do if they come across a snake in the outdoors?

The best thing you can do is give the snake a wide berth and put at least 3m between yourself and the snake. Never try to pick up the snake, using a stick to poke or move the snake, as this usually agitates the snake causing it to possibly strike out in self-defence if it feels threatened.

What should someone do if they get bitten/spit at? How can it be prevented?

Any snakebite should be treated as a medical emergency and following any bite or even suspected bite medical personnel should be alerted immediately. While keeping the victim as calm as possible, remove any tight-fitting clothing, rings or bracelets that may interfere with a swollen arm/leg or finger. Get to any hospital that has a trauma unit, you don’t have to factor in which hospital may or may not have antivenom.

When it comes to venom in the eyes (there are no spitting snakes in Cape Town itself), the venom should be immediately flushed out of the eyes with water for several minutes. The best would be under running water like a tap or hosepipe for 10-15minutes after which a visit to the local doctor is advised to check there is no damage done to the eye. If the venom lands on the skin it can simply be wiped away, there is only potential harm if the venom lands in a freshly opened wound and enters the body, although the chances of this are rather slim.

How common are the very venomous snakes in the Cape?

The most common venomous snakes in the Cape are the Cape Cobra, Boomslang and Puff Adder, all of which are really common. These snakes are commonly found in suburban gardens and built-up residential areas.

Are any of the Cape’s snakes endangered?

There are no specific endangered or at risk snakes in the Cape thankfully, although snakes, in general, are at great risk of habitat destruction, frequent burning and of course road mortalities. This is especially true up on the West Coast where the highways pass through pristine wild areas.

Do you have a favourite snake? 

There are simply so many to choose from, although I am particularly fond of the Shovel Nose Snakes (which feed exclusively on gecko eggs) – amazing specialised diets!

Here are some of the Cape’s most venomous snakes and interesting facts about them from Tyrone’s website.

Cape Cobra (Naja nivea) HIGHLY VENOMOUS

The Cape’s most venomous snakes, and what to do when you see one

Uniform Yellow variety of the Cape Cobra.

Africa’s most potent species of Cobra having a mainly neurotoxic venom with neurotoxic properties these snakes do not spit/spray their venom. Polyvalent anti-venom is used in the effective treatment of bites. The Cape Cobra is extremely common in the Western Parts of South Africa including Cape Town. Favouring drier arid environments as well as fynbos biomes including table mountain and surrounds.

These snakes are highly variable in colour and can be bright yellow, yellow with black speckles,  sandy brown, dark brown almost blackish and pale yellow almost grey in colour in some parts. Juveniles have a prominent black throat band which fades with age. Unlike most cobra species they are also well-known to have a black tail tip which is a key indicator between the Cape Cobra and Snouted Cobra.

Cape Boomslang (Dispholidus typus viridis) HIGHLY  VENOMOUS

The Cape’s most venomous snakes, and what to do when you see one

These snakes are strictly tree-dwelling animals and seldom venture down to the ground, with the exception being to feed or drink. They are one of the few snakes in Southern Africa that are sexually dimorphic (generally), meaning that the males and females feature different colouring.  One of the few snake species which is generally sexually dimorphic, often the males are black and yellow, and the females dull brown/grey or olive. Juvenile snakes are brown/grey with speckles, and have a brilliant emerald-green eye.

Averaging around 1.5m in length, Boomslangs can often reach close to 2m. These snakes rarely bite people, and are docile in nature. They possess a potent haemotoxic venom, for which there is an anti-venom available. It solely deals with bites from these snakes, and is called a monovalent anti-venom. There are no green Boomslang found in Cape Town.

Puff Adder (Bitis arietans) – HIGHLY VENOMOUS

The Cape’s most venomous snakes, and what to do when you see one

Vibrant Black and Yellow Puff Adder

Probably South Africa’s most widely-spread, common venomous snake, the Puff Adder is relatively common in Cape Town and is often seen on hiking trails. The Puff Adder is a snake with excellent camouflage, and it prefers to sit and wait for an opportunity when it comes to feeding. These snakes may remain in an ambush position for several weeks, waiting for a potential meal to pass by. They have a powerful cytotoxic venom which can lead to extreme pain, severe swelling, and blistering of the skin.

Berg Adder (Bitis atropos) HIGHLY VENOMOUS

Probably South Africa’s most widely-spread, common venomous snake, the Puff Adder is relatively common in Cape Town and is often seen on hiking trails. The Puff Adder is a snake with excellent camouflage, and it prefers to sit and wait for an opportunity when it comes to feeding. These snakes may remain in an ambush position for several weeks, waiting for a potential meal to pass by. They have a powerful cytotoxic venom which can lead to extreme pain, severe swelling, and blistering of the skin.  Berg Adder (Bitis atropos) HIGHLY VENOMOUS

Typical Cape Berg Adder

Averaging 30 cm but specimens may reach 60 cm. A short stocky snake, which ranges in colours from charcoal black, with a number of lighter or darker patches along the back. These snakes have a short temper that will hiss and struck out violently when accosted. There are more or less three distinctive populations of Berg Adders in South Africa. Typically favouring rocky high altitude montane regions associated with grasslands in the East, although in the Eastern and Western Cape they may be found at sea level.

Often sheltering under rocks and beneath grass tussocks, commonly seen basking on hiking paths on Table Mountain. Bites are uncommon and the venom seems to have largely neurotoxic properties which in some cases may cause prolonged effects on the senses. Affecting sense of smell, taste and sight in extreme cases.  Like most dwarf adders they are heavily collected for the illegal pet trade both locally and internationally. Antivenom is not used nor effective in the treatment of these bites.

Pictures: Tyrone Ping


This company was voted the best pet insurance brand in SA

This company was voted the best pet insurance brand in SA

Each year, The Star holds their annual Reader’s Choice Awards – a competition that empowers South African consumers to vote for their favourite brands and service providers based on their levels of customer care. In 2020, was voted South Africa’s Best Pet Insurance Company.

What makes this competition so special is that it isn’t about brands’ budgets, marketing efforts, or ability to impress industry insiders; it’s solely focused on the experiences of everyday South Africans.

“This award isn’t just about taking home the number one spot,” says Chief Operating Officer, David Roache, “It stands as a testament to our commitment to creating fans, not policyholders. It’s always been our goal to put our customers at the very centre of our business, and this award holds a special place in our hearts because it’s a direct result of that dedication.”

Upon launching in 2011, immediately began disrupting the insurance industry as a challenger brand. Designed as pet insurance created for animal lovers by animal lovers, they were the first pet insurer in South Africa to cover exotic pets, alongside their leading range of budget-friendly insurance products for dogs and cats.

Their love for animals doesn’t stop there – each year, champions Soft Landings initiatives that mobilise their staff, vet partners, and communities to raise funds for animals in need. In the past 2 years, they have raised over R1.5 million for the Animal Anti-Cruelty League, and continue to feed a shelter puppy for a month each time a pet insurance policy is bought online.

So, what’s the secret to being voted South Africa’s Best Pet Insurance Company? “Ultimately, we’re all about customer-centricity and bringing in that human-to-human connection that so often gets lost in the insurance industry,” explains Roache.

It’s this attitude that informs their holistic approach to customer service: From the highly-trained and passionate staff who operate their call centres, to connecting with their fans on social media, to on-the-ground activations that uplift their communities, each member of the team embodies the company’s values of Simplicity, Creating Fans, and Soft Landings.

The development of the Manage Portal is another avenue through which they empower their fans. By giving them 24/7 online access to their insurance policy, their customers can save time and enjoy ultimate convenience by being able to update their address, upgrade their plans, change their personal or banking details and more, wherever they are.

Parvovirus cases continue to rise in Cape Town

Parvovirus cases continue to rise in Cape Town

Positive Parvo cases have been climbing rapidly at the TEARS Animal Rescue in Sunnydale, Cape Town. More and more positive cases give enough evidence to state that it is now an outbreak situation.

The Parvovirus is highly contagious and can last for months or even years in the environment. To help keep your pooch up and going, regular vaccinations are a must to manage these diseases.

“Covid restrictions have played a large part in restricting TEARS from reaching the communities we support in order to deliver vaccinations to pets in the area. Pet owners are financially constrained, out of work, and barely have enough means to support themselves, let alone feeding their dogs and cats and getting their vaccinations done”, says TEARS Animal Rescue Operations Manager, Mandy Store.

Parvo is also deadly and kills 95% of dogs who are unvaccinated and untreated. Some unvaccinated dogs are lucky enough to have access to expensive treatments and their chances of survival increase slightly to about 40%.  A vaccinated dog who does fall ill has nearly a 100% chance of survival unless the dog has a comorbidity.

Head TEARS Veterinarian, Dr. Tania Heuer, believes that the public needs to be educated about the importance of vaccinating when buying or adopting a pet.

“Parvovirus is a killer in waiting. Once an area has been compromised with parvovirus, we tend to see rampant infection spikes resulting in the deaths of many unvaccinated dogs and puppies. Vaccination is the key to not only preventing parvovirus but eliminating it from the community,” she says.

Parvovirus is also commonly referred to as “kat griep” or “cat flu” but as this confuses people into thinking cats are spreading the virus, which is why TEARS prefer to only refer to the disease by its causing agent, i.e the parvovirus.

Due to the virus being contagious, TEARS Welfare Clinic advises to vaccinate puppies four times, three to four weeks apart starting from as early as six weeks old. The ideal schedule remains to vaccinate all puppies at six weeks, nine weeks, and 12 weeks with the last vaccine at 16 weeks of age.

The parvovirus attacks the immune system that is also located in the puppies’ intestines, hence the general symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea.

Symptoms of Parvo:

  • Vomiting
  • Severe, bloody diarrhoea
  • Lethargy / Listlessness (Not wanting to play with other puppies)
  • Anorexia (Not wanting to eat)
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Depression
  • Dehydration
  • Death

Current Challenges with positive cases:

Due to Covid-19, many animal owners can’t afford even the most basic of veterinary care and this has left our community animals at risk of infections.

A positive animal could be shedding the virus for two weeks without showing symptoms and someone believing they have a healthy puppy, may spread the virus unknowingly.

Furthermore, should a puppy contract parvo, receive treatment and survive, it can continue to shed the virus for approximately one month (articles reporting three to six weeks of active shedding).

The virus can be spread with “fomites” meaning dead materials and things like clothes and shoes could spread the virus as well, and not just the usual direct and indirect routes between dogs.

Direct virus exposure is if a puppy licks infected vomit or stool from a sick animal, and indirectly from an active shedder (smelling a recovered dog’s behind) or if being touched by an owner that may have touched another ill puppy.

Pearls of wisdom:

  • Always vaccinate your puppy (four times, three weeks apart)
  • Do not touch a stranger’s puppy and then yours without washing your hands, clothes and shoes
  • Do not take your puppy to public places until two weeks after the last vaccination at 16 weeks old (four months old)
  • Keep puppies in your yard at all times until fully vaccinated (before taking them to the beach or park)
  • DO NOT GET A NEW PUPPY if you lost a puppy to parvo for at least one YEAR
  • Do not allow unvaccinated animals into your property
  • For all dogs (and cats) continue their vaccination schedule annually (more so in highly infectious areas and closed living communities)
  • Puppy training and puppy school properties are usually considered “safe” after the secnd vaccine schedule
  • Always speak to your own veterinarian for the best advice
  • Always check on your puppy and feed it three times per day until it is six months old. By checking on your dog regularly, you can identify problems sooner and seek veterinary care at the first sign of illness. Whether the puppy is being listless, not wanting to eat, “not itself”, showing signs of vomiting or having diarrhoea.

TEARS Animal Rescue is dedicated to the prevention of disease in the low-income communities that we serve. Diseases like parvo can be prevented and eventually eliminated in areas with vaccination programmes.

Last year, TEARS vaccinated 1340 companion animals. Donate today!

Picture: Unsplash


Bike ride helps support TEARS animal rescue shelter

Bike ride helps support TEARS animal rescue shelter

The Deep South Lions Club hosted a charity bike ride on Sunday in an effort to source donations for TEARS. Picture: Supplied

The Newlands branch of an international club, the Deep South Lions, is patting itself on the back after a successful turnout for its annual charity bike ride in support of the The Emma Animal Rescue Society (TEARS) animal rescue shelter.

The organisation, which stretches from the Western Cape to Namibia, hosted a charity bike ride on Sunday morning to source essential items for animals currently housed at TEARS, in Masiphumelele.

Deep South Lions Club president Rory Stier said although the charity bike ride was part of the club’s annual community engagements, it was important, “almost vital”, to support those in need due to the ongoing pandemic.

“Our annual charity bike run is such an important initiative and we are more than pleased to grow and expand it each year. This year I think goods to the total of R15 000 were donated.

“The turn-out was amazing we had over 100 bikers who joined us and about 30 cars as well. People brought the animals at the shelter food and blankets. Everyone came with something for the animals, and as a club we couldn’t be happier.

“Facilitating community aid is rewarding, and we are grateful to TEARS for allowing us to continue supporting them where we can,” said Stier.

TEARS operations manager Mandy Store said: “TEARS Animal Rescue is overwhelmed by the generosity of the Deep South Lions Charity Bike Ride in support of vulnerable companion animals.”

She said twice as many supporters came out to support this year’s bike ride. “It has warmed our hearts and boosted much-needed pet food donations.

“During the Covid-19 crisis, TEARS has been actively feeding dogs and cats in the low-income communities that we support. This relief has gone a long way towards helping pet owners support their pets during a time of so much financial uncertainty and scarcity.

“A massive thank you to everyone who took part in the rally!”

Source: IOL