Found a stray animal

Image: Pixabay

A guide to help animals that are lost
Many animals are roaming the streets and reported as lost!  There are always good Samaritans who take them in and keep them safe. Last week we looked at what to do if your pet is lost and how to prevent it. This week we will look at what can be done if you found an animal.

Before we continue, a note on the SPCA operations:

Although I believe picking up strays is preventing cruelty, it is not in the SPCA’s mandate to pick up stray animals, except injured ones or those in distress. They do not have the resources to drive up and down the whole day, so we really need the community to step up and help with lost and found animals. The SPCA, by law, may not refuse to take in any animal taken to them.

People are hesitant to take animals to the SPCA for various reasons, but once you volunteer there and understand the process, it can help. If you do not have an alternative, the animal is definitely safer at the SPCA than in the street where they can be stolen, injured or killed.  There is a pound period for a stray animal handed over to the SPCA. This is determined by the municipal bylaws and that SPCA’s policy.  It is usually around 5-14 days (our local ones are 5 days).  The SPCA is unlikely to advertise this animal during the pound period, so it is important to visit them and look for yourself if you lost one or continue to share the “found” post with a note that they are at the SPCA.  

After the pound period, the animal becomes the property of the SPCA and they can either put them up for adoption or euthanize (put to sleep) them. The SPCA policies usually does and should include that an animal can’t be removed from their premises unless they are sterilized or microchipped (or collar ID), pound fees are paid and a home inspection is done at the owner’s home.  Some require up-to-date vaccination too, which is great. I also advise people to take the found animals to the SPCA if they are constantly in the street, not sterilized and in the street, or a nuisance to others.  Then the owners can explain to the authorities why they are not responsible pet guardians. I will also advise this route if you are unsure about whether those who claim to be the owners are actually the owners, expecially with powerbreeds.

How to share a found animal correctly on social media
This is an important aspect to reunite animals with owners more effectively!

  • Share this post on your personal profile with the privacy setting on public. Include a photo, when and where you found the animal and a contact number. I never share too many details including the sex of the animal as it can be used with owners to help confirm ownership.
  • Share a clear picture and preferably only one photo because of how it might appear in a groups and timelines.
  • Don’t put the details in the comments, but everything in the original writing at the top.
  • Then share that post to all groups and pages. Now people can share it from private groups, which can’t be done otherwise and you only have one post to follow and to update. This post can then be reshared often.
  • Always comment on and share the original post from social media as well as UPDATE the post if FOUND at the top, so those who shared can see that the animal is safe and so that people don’t continue to share an animal that is back home already.
  • Messenger is not an ideal place to be contacted due to message requests not being a formal notification. You need to go into message requests to see if there are any. We have lost so much time, not getting in touch with these people. I for one do not mind sharing my number on Facebook when the life of a sentient being, I am responsible for, is at stake.

What to do if you find an animal?

  • If they are hurt, please take them to the local vet or SPCA immediately. You can contact the emergency number of the local SPCA too.
  • Scan for a microchip at the local vets or SPCA.
  • Some vets may take in stray animals for a day or two before they contact the SPCA.
  • If the pet seems recently groomed, contact local groomers to see if they recognize them.
  • If there are signs of a recent operations or medical procedures, contact local Vets. This can include healing wounds, stitches, vet shaved areas, etc.
  • If you can, take care of the animal (foster) until you find the owner. We need more people of the public to help with this.
  • Post on local social media and neighbourhood groups. Once is not enough!
  • We do not suggest sharing specific marks or the sex of the pet. Ask the person who claims the pet to provide this info as well as photos for proof. Watch the animals’ reaction when a person claims the pet. There are scammers!  If you are unsure about this, rather contact one of the local animal welfare organizations to assist.
  • If you can’t foster, try and find a foster home and after 7 days, we can organize adoption through one of the responsible welfare organizations. We usually refer cats to Feral Watch & TNR or Because Dogs and CO for any other animals. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES CAN YOU JUST KEEP THE ANIMAL! Take the details of the person to whom you give the animal too and you can also send it to the admins on the Verlore Diere Secunda (TEKS) group as we keep records of that.
  • Take the animal to the SPCA if you can’t foster or find a foster. 
  • If you hit an animal with your car, please do not be a coward and drive away.  Lie if you have to and say you found the animal, instead of leaving them to suffer and die. CALL the SPCA emergency number immediately and keep trying until someone answers.  Otherwise, try a local vet or one of the other animal welfare organizations. At least they could humanly end the suffering or help save them.
  • Please DO NOT REMOVE kittens. You said that mom ran away and left them. No, she is scared of you and will return as soon as you just let them be. If the babies are quiet and content, the mom is around. She might be searching for food or busy moving her litter. Unless they are in immediate danger, including moving cars, dogs, or humans to inflict pain, bad weather, etc., DO NOT REMOVE THEM! Contact an organization for advice first.

NOTE: None of the animal welfare organizations has the resources to drive up and down to pick up strays or foster them and therefore needs the community to assist with this. You are someone who can do something!Everyone can help in some way. You can donate funds for those who foster (through reputable organizations), you can foster and everyone can share these posts.

Thank you to each of the heroes who take in these lost pets! Without you, we would see more deceased and injured animals because it is not safe on the streets for any animal.

Owners, please keep your animals safe in your yard. If they got out once, it could be an accident, but twice is irresponsible owners! Last week we shared on how you can escape-proof your yard!

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

Follow Highveld Ridge SPCA and Bethal SPCA on Facebook.

We would like to see one formal lost & found group for Secunda instead of all the separate groups created by the public.

  • Verlore diere Secunda (TEKS) (group) is the only group in Secunda, run by those actively involved in animal welfare. Join the local WhatsApp group for lost and found pets via the LINK.

Bethal and Standerton

If your animals are lost, you would want the public to help keep them safe, to share, to foster, so do that for someone else! Next week we will look at what to do if you found Wildlife.


Source: The Bulletin

Did you find a wild animal?

Did you find a wild animal

Image: Pixabay

Compassionate people try to help when they find wild animals and birds, but are often unsure of how to handle these situations.
At times, wild animals end up in our suburban areas and there are various reasons for this. When it happens, many people are concerned about them and want to help, but are unsure about how to handle the situation or who to contact. There is always a possibility that you might do more harm than good if you don’t know how to handle the situation correctly and stress is one of the biggest killers of rescued wildlife. If it is an adult animal or bird, they might also have babies nearby, which could die if you remove them. Today we will provide some general guidelines shared by the NSPCA and other wildlife rehabilitation organizations.

People often find birds, bunnies, tortoises, bats, hedgehogs, snakes and other wildlife in their yard. Sometimes it is a bird/animal that had a stressful encounter and is now just “catching their breath”, other times they might be injured and lost, or is a baby/fledgling. Unless in immediate danger or injured. We usually advise to let them be and keep an eye out.  If there have been heavy rains or other extreme weather, please take a few extra minutes and check gardens for wildlife that may be drenched and not able to fly.

What to do if you found wildlife

WHAT TO DO IF YOU FOUND WILDLIFE (until professional help arrives)

  • If they are injured and you don’t have a wildlife veterinarian nearby, please contact a wildlife vet or rehabber to advise. If you can’t get hold of a rehabber, please contact your nearest vet, but remember that not all vets are equiped to deal with wildlife. They might be able to address the emergency, but in many cases they might opt to euthanize (humanely kill) the animal. They are also not allowed to keep the animal indefinitely without a permit.
  • If not injured or in immediate danger, let them be and observe.
  • Before you remove them, first contact a wildlife rehabilitator, local welfare organizations, or SPCA to advise.
  • Do not give food or water before speaking to a rehabilitator. You could kill them by giving them something that their body can’t handle at that moment. You can’t feed a dehydrated animal and the public might not be equipped to know how to recognize the symptoms or they might have an internal injury. This will obviously depend on how long the animal is with you and why it is important to get in contact with experts as soon as possible.
  • Note the exact spot where the animal was found as this is important when the animal is released again. Record any injuries you might have noticed and provide the rehabilitator with information about treatment you provided while they were in your care, especially if you have given them anything. Whether they have had any bowel movements is also an important note.
  • Never keep the animal with you any longer than necessary. You have a moral and legal obligation to hand them over to the right people. Many rescue animals and keep them, only to hand them over when they suddenly become sick and then it might already be too late.
  • ALways contact a wildlife rehabilitator, the SPCA, the nature conservation department, or the wildlife veterinarian as soon as possible. We also refer such cases to the SPCA as wildlife are rarely just euthanized and will be taken to a rehabilitation facility approved by the NSPCA or released back into the wild in a safe manner. If the local SPCA does not answer, try the NSPCA (011 907 3590/ directly.  They will either contact the Wildlife unit or the local SPCA.

Please note that this might differ slightly for various animals.

  • Prepare the container. Place newspaper or straw on the bottom of a cardboard box or container with a lid. Don’t use sawdust as it can interfere with respiration.
  • Protect yourself. Wear gloves, if possible. Animals in distress can bite, some birds may stab with their beaks, slice with their talons (claws) and slap with their wings to protect themselves, even if sick; birds and other animals might have parasites (fleas, lice, ticks) and may carry diseases.
  • Cover the animal with a light towel or sheet.
  • Gently and correctly handle them!
  • Make enough air holes in the container for good ventilation. For smaller birds, you can use a paper sack with air holes.
  • Secure the container and don’t let the animals loose in your house or car.
  • Warm the animal if they are cold. Follow expert guidelines.
  • Keep them in a quiet, safe, warm (depending on weather) dark place.
  • Keep your pets and children away from them. Don’t bother them.
  • Wash your hands and anything the animal was kept in or touched with.
  • If you do provide water in a small accessible container, make sure the water is not bumped over. Again, this is after you confirmed with a rehabilitator.



FLEDGELINGS (those learning to fly)
Don’t BIRDNAP the babies! Many young birds may appear abandoned, but they are probably waiting for mom or learning to fly. The process of fledging begins by jumping out of the nest. It usually takes them 3-4 days to learn how to fly. It is the time when mom teaches them how to fear, forage and fly. We know it is a dangerous world, but this is why it is so crucial to learn these skills from mom. If they look a little scruffy, fully feathered, standing and hopping, they are probably a fledgling.  

Don’t feed them even if it is a tiny baby. Forced syringe feeding is usually a struggle for humans and birds. They can also aspirate, so please do this only with the guidance of a rehabilitator. Many people have this idea to feed Weetbix or ProNutro, but we strongly advise against it. There are safer options if you have to and the rehabilitator will advise on it. Don’t give birds bread, including ducks and geese.

If you found a fledgeling:

  • let them be while you look for mom nearby;
  • put the baby back in the nearby nest if you know it is theirs;
  • take them in and keep them safe until the right person can fetch them;
  • get the bird to a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible.


Gently pick up the bird and put it into the prepared container. Do not hold the bird across their chest as this can damage the crop and the internal organs of the bird which will kill the bird. The correct manner of holding a bird is as follows:

Place a hand over the top of the bird very gently with your index finger and middle finger parting in a “V”. The neck of the bird should rest between the arches of the “V” as to stabilize its head and neck. With your other hand support the bottom of the bird and allow its feet to rest comfortably in your hand. Secure the wings of the bird. Do not handle the bird with a tight grip as it just needs to be stable in the above position. Handle firm enough so they don’t escape and get injured, but gently enough not to hurt them yourself. Do not handle them unnecessarily.

Warm the bird if the weather is cold and wet or if the bird is chilled. Put one end of the container on a heating pad set on low. Alternatively fill a zip-top plastic bag, plastic soft drink bottle with a screw lid, hot water bottle, or rubber glove with hot water; wrap a warm container with a cloth and put it next to the bird. Make sure the container doesn’t leak, or the bird will become wet and chilled.

If the bird is soaking wet and only if the rehabilitator advised so, use a hair dryer on low/medium warmth to dry the bird. Very important: Keep one hand between the bird and the hairdryer so you can feel the heat. Make sure you do not burn the bird. Ensure there is not a massive build-up of heat in the box while drying. As soon as their feathers are fluffed and the bird is warm, leave the bird to cool down to room temperature in a quiet area.

It would be prudent to leave the bird in the box undisturbed for the evening if the bird is found late afternoon unless you’ve picked up an owl, in which case, release them as soon as the owl is dry so they can hunt, if not injured. Release the animal where you found them, as early in the morning as possible. They start chirping from 4h30 am in the summer months but 5h30 / 6 am would be fine too. Make sure dogs or cats cannot get to them while they are in the opened box or container, getting their bearings before taking off.

If you found a young bird of prey alone and they appear to not be injured, watch from a distance to see if mom returns. If you can approach the bird, they are likely very sick or seriously injured.  If this is the case, follow the above guidelines and contact the vet or rescue organization.

  • Do NOT use a wire cage/cat cage or something similar to it.
  • Make note of where the bird was found.
  • Do NOT attempt to feed the bird or provide water, unless instructed by a qualified individual.
  • If the bird is not injured, release them at night and don’t keep them for the evening.


Note that animals like Egyptian geese lead their goslings to water a few days after hatching, often along busy streets. Do not “rescue” the goslings or any other little ones by separating them from their parents. You can rather escort the family through the traffic to the nearest pond.

“Unlike some of our local wildlife whose existence is being severely threatened by human development and urbanization, our ever-expanding cities and suburbs are proving an ideal breeding site for Egyptian geese. In addition to a warm climate, Egyptian geese look for access to a freshwater source and an area with plentiful food. So, be it your swimming pool, an eco-estate, or a golf course, our Egyptian geese are currently spoilt for choice when it comes to sites to rear their young,” says CROW director, Paul Hoyte.

Hoyte suggests letting the geese be if they take up residence in gardens, except where there is a danger of attacks from pets. In these cases, he appeals to people to assist them with safe capture. “The biggest problem we have is that to give the goslings the best chance of survival, we need to catch mom and dad too. Herein lies the problem, as they simply fly away as soon as we arrive with our catch and throw nets. Thankfully, what we have been finding as a huge help, is if the homeowner is prepared to lend us a helping hand by getting the family into any enclosed area such as a garage or shed before we arrive”.

“This is relatively easy to do with a washing or laundry basket. Gently scoop up each of the goslings and place them in the basket. Then, with mom and dad watching you, take the goslings and place the basket in your open garage or shed. Soon enough, mom and dad will make their way into the room to be close to their babies. As soon as they’re in, close the door and contact your local rescue to come and catch them.”


  • Please do not kill the snake. 
  • Watch where the snake is going.
  • Keep a safe distance.
  • Keep children and animals away from the snake.
  • Contact your local snake handlers and try to give a discription of the snake as well.

A local page to follow is TEKSA Venom

The young babies do not have fur yet and have a “rubber” appearance. They are called pinky’s. For the first few weeks, the pups can’t fly yet and still drink from their mom. Any bat found, should be kept warm because they might be in shock but pups can’t regulate their body temperature yet (no fur), therefore won’t necessarily move away from the heat and can burn themselves.  A warm tap water in a bottle, covered with a towel/cloth is best.

We do not recommend placing bat pups back into roosts (controversy):

  • The mother bat may be dead.
  • Several species of bat may roost in the same roof, placing the pup in the wrong roost can get it killed.
  • The mother bat may have twins or triplets and has chosen to abandon one as resources may not enable her to raise all the babies.

Bats can’t take off from the ground, they need to “drop” from a height (around 1.5m). As they’re falling, they get the wind under their wings to fly. You can put an uninjured grounded bat on something high enough so they can drop themselves.

Bats are not dangerous and they catch lots of mosquitos. We are not aware of any rabies cases from South African bats and they are clean animals!


It is important to understand that it is against the law to keep wild mammals/birds if you don’t have permits, even if you plan to release them. The SPCA is a place of safety for animals, dogs and cats being the most commonly handled or admitted animals and no animal is ever turned away. They care for farm and domestic animals. Wildlife is also accepted with indigenous animals being relocated to approved wildlife rehabilitation centers.

For more advice or if you are unsure of anything contact the South African Wildlife and Rehabilitation centre rescuers:

  • Judy: 073 112 1131
  • Leanne: 082 852 2510
  • Lauren: 082 873 8235
  • Dirk: 071 755 3791
  • Stefan 079 771 7125 (in Secunda)

Birds in the TEKS area:

  • Shy 083 653 9755    
  • Willie 079 046 1001

Please be patient when asking for assistance as these rescuers do not only deal with your situation that day. Thank you for caring enough to help.  Educate yourself and others on how to help wild and domestic animals in the best possible and safest way. Please consider donating to the organization that assists or takes in the animal.

What happens to the wildlife afterward?  Wild animals need to go back to the wild.  If injured, they will need professional help fromrehabilitators. It is important to remember that rehabilitators will evaluate each situation individually.  Although the above are general guidelines please ALWAYS contact a rehabilitator first.


Source: The Bulletin

Help! My parrot is missing!

Image: Pixabay

What can you do when your parrot goes missing?
Missing parrots seem to be a frequent occurrence in our area lately and since these birds are human-imprinted, it is really dangerous for them outside, especially in the winter times. We understand that accidents can happen, but for me, if it happens multiple times then it is not an accident. Remember that they didn’t get to choose you as their owner and you are responsible for keeping them safe. Prevention is better than cure, but today we will provide a guideline on what to do if it do escape.

Be prepared for an escape:
Birds instinctively tend to fly when their adrenaline level is high. They also generally fly up to the highest point they can land. However, most pet birds today have never fully fledged (fledging is the process of learning how to fly). While smaller birds can often fly quite easily, larger parrots require more skill to be able to take off and land at will and to navigate where they want to go.

For all pet owners, please have flyers ready just in case. Take a few minutes now to create one for each pet.  Have copies available so a friend can make copies for you while you do an initial search. You don’t want to take this time after the escape nor do you want to find you have no photos.  A photo should show the bird in full colour both back and front view and with wings spread if possible. If you leave town and your parrots in the care of others, make sure they fully understand the recovery process and that they understand to notify you immediately if your bird escapes.

Prevention is better than cure:

  1.  Always check that windows and doors are closed when they are out of their cage.
  2. Wing clipping should only be done by a qualified professional. Remember they can still fly quite a distance, especially on a windy day.
  3. If you take them for outings make sure it is a safe and secure carrier or wear a safe harness.
  4. Practice recall and teach them to fly down to you from higher perches, trees, roofs, or the top of stairs.
  5. Have a poster or at least pictures ready in case they get out.  It is sad to see how many pet owners do not have pictures of their pets.

Finding an escaped bird – How to proceed:

  • Act Immediately – Locating your bird is the first step. This must be done as quickly as possible. So, start searching as soon as you realize your bird is lost. If you see them fly away, note the direction!  
  • Place his/her cage outside – Put the cage outside and fill it with his/her favourite treats and fresh water. Leave the cage door open.
  • Canvas the neighbourhood – Most birds are recovered within 3 kilometers of the escape location, so within hours you need to have everyone within that area know how to contact you. Let your neighbours know that you lost your bird. Walk around the neighbourhood and call his/her name. The best way to do this is to go door to door to every home within a kilometer of the escape location. If you have other birds, take them with you on the search if possible.
  • Distribute flyers and share them on social media (correctly) – Post and pass out flyers with a detailed description of your bird and a pictures. Include instructions that say to leave the bird alone and not attempt to recover them and your contact number. Facebook messenger is not an effective method if you are not friends on Facebook. When you share on social media, do a post on your personal profile with privacy setting on public. Then share and reshare that particular post everywhere instead of doing a new one every time.
  • Ensure that as many eyes and ears as possible are on the lookout – Give flyers to school crossing guards and distribute them to students exiting schools local to the escape location.
  • Keep your phone charged – The phone number listed on the flyer should be a fully charged cell phone with service available in the area where your bird was lost. If this is not available the phone should be with a friend or family member who will be able to contact you while you are out searching. Give and alternative number too.
  • Offer a reward- You could offer a reward for the safe return of your lost bird. Keep in mind that this may encourage the theft of animals, so, in general, I do not encourage this.

What to expect:
Even brightly coloured parrots blend in amazingly well and are hard to spot. The bird will most likely start calling within the first 24 hours.  Those living close should know how to contact you. Days are not counted with 24 hours, but how many nights the parrot has been out.

DAY 1 is the day of escape whether morning or late in the afternoon. 

DAY 2 is the day after the first night spent out. 

DAY 3 is the day after the 2nd night out etc.

First 24 hours:
Looking for parrots should begin the moment they escape and continue until dusk and resume every morning at dawn. Large parrots are quiet and roost at night making searching at night fairly pointless.

The next 24 hours:
If you have not spotted your parrot within the first 24 hours make sure someone does the round at local shelters and veterinary hospitals daily. As time passes the chances of recovery lessons so move fast and keep moving.  Send your flyer to your local avian vet.

Call your local animal care and control and rescue organizations/shelters and list your bird as missing. Go there every day to see if your bird has been surrendered.

Day 3:

  • By day 3 you should enlarge your flyer area to about 1.5- 2km and grow it each day thereafter.
  • The most critical part of recovery is: DON’T GIVE UP!!!!
  • Place an ad in your local newspapers. Some of them place ads about lost and found animals for free.
  • Share on social media frequently with updates on the original post if the bird was spotted in some areas with times. Not in the comments!
  • Seek a bird rescue organization or rescuer near you and let them know you lost your bird. They often take in stray birds as well.
  • List your bird as missing at other lost and found bird websites out of town.

Recovering a large parrot:

  • Wait until the bird is ready to come down

Consequently, if a bird flies to something high, like a tree, it may not have the skill and experience to know how to fly down. This means that most large parrots who escape their caregivers need to be found quickly and then monitored until they are ready to climb down on their own. Once the parrot is located, if it is above arm’s reach, you need to wait until the parrot climbs down willingly. The parrot will do this on its timetable, not yours. Food treats and attention by the caregiver are the only tools that should be used to encourage the parrot to come down sooner, rather than later.

Remember your bird will probably have to glide down instead of fly immediately down.

  • Do not spook the bird into taking off again

Chances are, the parrot will not come down until she/he has spent two nights out. Thus, your goal is to ensure that nothing spooks the parrot into flight. The worst thing that can happen is for the parrot to take flight again so you have to resume your search. This means that under no circumstances should anyone climb a tree, or use a ladder, net, pole, hose, or other reaching item to access the parrot. A few cold nights are far less dangerous to the bird than having it fly onto a power line or to a location where you can’t spot it. The hard part is finding a bird!

  • Observe the bird

The parrot should be observed from dawn to dusk. The parrot will probably just roost. Food should not be left out or distributed around the location. The goal is for the parrot to climb down to the caregiver. This usually happens on day three. Avoid too many strangers at the location. You want the parrot to focus on its caregiver.

Watch for signs the parrot is ready to climb down:

  1. Fluttering of wings
  2. Movement in the tree to ensure a good view of the caregiver
  3. Calls to the caregiver when not in view
  4. Movement toward the caregiver
  • Start the food fest

Once the parrot is showing clear signs of being ready to climb down, start passing favourite foods to other spotters around the location within the view of the parrot. Make yummy sounds showing great pleasure in having such wonderful treats. Use fairly large visible portions of brightly or strong-smelling foods that the parrot sees as a treat. This should get the parrot fairly excited if it is ready to come down. Continue with the food fest with only the primary caregiver directly at the base where the parrot will need to climb down.

  • Leave and return

If the parrot settles a bit during day three, leave a spotter at the location and have the primary caregiver leave for an hour or so, returning with a plate of food. Offer the food to the spotter and start the food fest over again. Most likely, by the end of day three, the parrot will give in and climb down to its caregiver.

If it is getting late in the day on day 3 and the parrot is looking like it is settling in for the night, try one last shot for that day.

By day 4 most parrots will climb down to anyone, but for those few holdouts, just continue as on previous days. The parrot will eventually climb down when they are ready.

Bird care & Enclosures:

  • Most of the cages and even food sold by pet shops and some vets are likely not right for the birds. The bird must be able to fully stretch the wings and flap them without touching the sides of the cage.
  • Correct diameter perches where toes must not fully close around the perch (general rule of thumb is 2/3 or 3/4 close) should be in the cages as well as some sort of platform where the feet can be stretched open. Two additional sizes can be beneficial too.
  • Horizontal space is just as important as vertical space. Ideally, the cage size must provide enough space to fly from one end to another. Avian welfare expert Dr. Kim Danoff notes, “Depriving birds of flight is mentally and physically stressful.”
  • You also need enrichment activities and foraging opportunites inside and outside the cage.
  • Make sure you give species-appropriate food and clean water daily. The typical sunflower seeds and peanuts are not ideal and can even be dangerous.
  • Make sure you visit an avian vet for your bird’s needs. Not all vets can just treat birds or exotic animals.
  • I always advise against birds as starter pets for kids.
  • If you have any animal, but especially parrots that reach 30 plus years of age, then you need to have a plan for them in your will and last testament!

Please note we are against the keeping of any exotic animals or birds as pets, in cages, and breeding with them.  Most people who have birds are not meeting their needs and it is heartbreaking for us to see this. There are far too many abandoned birds/animals or those that get passed on from one home to another.

Please think long and hard before getting a bird as a pet. Volunteer at a rescue first and do proper research about all their needs. If you have a bird, don’t take away their ability to fly and to be birds, and make very sure that your enclosures can keep them safe as well as train a good recall!

We will fight not until cages are comfortable, but until cages are empty!


Source: The Bulletin

Spay and Neuter your Pets

Image: Pixabay

Spaying and neutering have many benefits, including health, behaviour & community benefits.

When it comes to the animals we choose to share our lives with, it is our responsibility to keep them safe, and healthy and to meet all their needs.  We also need to make sure that they do not become a nuisance in our communities. There are two major reasons why we promote spay & neuter:

  1. We have a massive overpopulation crisis in SA but also worldwide. It is so bad that around 2800 healthy animals are HUMANELY KILLED (Euthanized) DAILY IN SA!
  2. It can be beneficial for their health & behaviour!

We will get back to those in a moment, but first, let’s look at the definitions and methods used for spaying and neutering.

At maturity (6-9 months of age) male dogs and cats are capable of breeding. Female dogs experience a “heat” cycle approximately every six months, depending upon the breed. A female dog’s heat cycle can last as long as 21 days during which your dog will leave bloodstains in the house and may become anxious, short-tempered and actively seek a mate. Female cats can come into heat every 2 weeks during breeding season until they become pregnant and they can fall pregnant as young as 4 months of age.

What does spay & neuter mean?

It’s important to recognize the difference between sterilization and desexing (traditional spay and neuter). Whereas the former procedure eliminates a dog’s ability to procreate, desexing sterilizes but also eliminates the dog’s ability to produce sex hormones for the remainder of their life. defines it as follows: The word “spay” refers to the sterilization of female pets. During the ovariohysterectomy, or the typical “spay”, the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus are removed from a female dog or cat. The term “neuter” refers to the castration of male pets.  During orchiectomy or the typical “neuter”, the testes are removed from a male dog or cat.

Both the spay and neuter procedure makes them unable to reproduce and reduces or eliminate breeding-related behaviours. In females, it eliminates her heat cycle.

Methods used:

According to Dr. Karen Becker, traditional spaying and neutering are basically the only techniques vets are currently taught and we need to change that. Each of the following comes with its own risk-benefit analysis and might not mean zero risk of pregnancy. Keeping the testes or uterus, increases those risks for infections and cancers for example.

  • Males:
    • Neuter where testes are removed.
    • Vasectomy where testes are kept intact.
  • Females:
    • Tubal ligation – similar to “tubes tie”
    • Ovary sparing spay – removal of uterus and cervix only.
    • Overiectomy – referred to as laparoscopic spay. Removal of ovaries, but not the uterus.
    • Ovariohysterectomy – removal of ovaries and uterus. (Traditional full spay)

Choosing to keep an animal intact (medical reason or not) requires a highly……I mean highly responsible pet guardian (owner). Keep in mind a guy called Murphy and the massive overpopulation crisis! Let’s get back to the reasons to spay and neuter.

  1. The pet overpopulation crisis.

Our biggest struggle in animal welfare is the MASSIVE OVERPOPULATION CRISIS, especially cats and dogs, but also parrots, rabbits and other animals. There are just not enough homes for us to adopt our way out of this mess. Breeders breed them faster than we can save them.  If there are fewer animals then fewer of them can fall into the wrong hands and be neglected or abused. 

You need to understand the magnitude of this overpopulation crisis and then, hopefully, you will understand why many of us advocate so hard for it.

    • According to Rescue Rehab SA, approximately 1 million dogs and cats are euthanized in South Africa every year, that is 2740 a day and likely an underestimation!
    • One female cat and her offspring can exponentially produce 370 000 cats in just seven years and one female dog and her offspring can exponentially produce 67 000 dogs in six years. We are not even talking about the males who can impregnate multiple females in the same time.
    • Another estimation is that only about 1 out of every 10 dogs born find a home.
    • According to the Humane Society of the USA, a cat or dog is euthanized at shelters every 10s.
    • A report by Mars Petcare showed 224 million animals are homeless in the USA, UK, SA, Mexico, Greece, Russia, China, India & Germany and about 30% of animals in SA are homeless.
    • At least one in four pets brought to shelters are purebred and this number is climbing.

Why do we have this massive overpopulation crisis?
We are in this mess because people do not sterilize their pets, they support breeders and pet shops or give or sell these sentient beings to anyone. Breeders selfishly exploit animals for financial gain and fuel the massive overpopulation crisis. Many people do not keep their animals, including cats, safe in their yards so they roam the streets where they can get lost and end up in shelters or will likely fall pregnant or get another pregnant.

2. It is good for their health & behaviour

When you spay and neuter your pets it can lead to longer and happier lives.  There are many health benefits of spaying and neutering which include a lower risk for certain diseases like cancers and pyometra.  It improves behaviour, especially when dealing with females in heat and males marking or spraying and wandering out of the yard in search of these females which they can smell from far away. 

Benefits of sterilization:

    • Your pet will live a longer, healthier life.
    • Cancer and other malignant conditions are the nr one cause of death in adult dogs. In a cancer study with 3452 dogs, the researchers found that males tend to be diagnosed at a younger age than females BUT NEUTERED MALE DOG dogs tended to be diagnosed when they were significantly older than intact dogs. Spaying and neutering help prevent certain types of cancers like mammary tumours, testicular cancer, prostate disease and sexually transmitted diseases.
    • For females it decreases the risk to develop Pyometra (pus in the womb) which is very dangerous.
    • Your spayed female won’t go into heat and cause behaviour changes for her and the males looking for a mate.
    • An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate! That includes digging his way under the fence to escape from the yard and once he’s free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other males or being stolen.
    • Intact male dogs and cats may mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house.
    • Your pet will not cause the upheaval in the neighbourhood.
    • Neutered male cats and dogs fight less, resulting in fewer battle scars, and the spread of contagious diseases and abscesses.
    • Spaying and neutering your pet is good for the community because stray animals pose a problem for a few reasons including, they can get into fights, cause car accidents, become a nuisance and frighten people and other animals.
    • There are risks associated with pregnancy and it takes a toll on the mom’s body. Many are not always able to give birth naturally, and this incurs high veterinary costs as caesareans may need to be performed and/or other complications may arise. Many animals die in labour.
    • It certainly eliminates the stress associated with pregnancy.
    • Veterinary care related to unsterilised animal health issues (cancers, fights, pyometra) can be expensive. Providing proper care for the litter is also expensive.
    • Spaying and neutering help fight the pet overpopulation. Every year, millions of cats, dogs and other animals of all ages and breeds are euthanized or suffer as strays, because there are just not enough homes. Sterilization takes a few minutes, but the suffering of an abandoned animal, takes a lifetime.
    • The cost in terms of euthanase, burial/incineration and even human stress are enormous.

The biggest criticism for spay & neuter:
A topic that creates a lot of controversy in some circles is whether to do full spay and neuter or keep some sex organs intact, to spay or neuter early or later, or whether to spay or neuter at all. There are always two sides to a coin and it is important to look at both sides.

Some research shows that with desexing spays and neuters – surgical procedures that remove the gonads and associated sex hormones – it can have a long-term negative impact on the animal’s health. The research for the most part, suggests this more in large dog breeds, in only a few studies. The advice then is to have them spayed or neutered after they turned one year old, but then again, they need a highly responsible owner.  You must also remember that the relationship between sex hormones, health and wellness is more complex and can be influenced by many aspects like sex, breed, age, environment and more.

Some suggest they develop other cancers and ACL (knee ligament) injuries are another favourite to throw in. Many things can cause cancer including their diet, genetics and other pollutants (lawn chemicals, cleaning products etc). I work with human ACL rehab and there are a few factors to those injuries. FYI….people who are not spayed/neutered get them too.

Spay and neuter SA have looked at much of the evidence presented and for me, currently, the benefits still outweigh the potential health risks. Keep in mind there may be exceptions and we support doing what is best for the individual pet too. When it comes to the ability to spay or neuter early, it depends on the skills of the vet and individual health of the pet.

So, to spay and neuter or not and when? Discuss it with your trusted veterinarian. My advice is…….volunteer at a shelter to help you decide on it in general and then also look at your individual pet, their breed and needs.

I have not yet seen these negative effects myself and I think there is more research needed on this as single case studies of low quality, are not enough to convince me.  With this massive overpopulation crisis worldwide, the benefits far outweigh the risk.

What are alternatives then? 
When a pet is left intact, it requires a highly responsible pet guardian who is fully committed to and capable of preventing mating and litters. Another option is sterilizing so the testes or ovaries can continue to produce hormones. This can be accomplished and I would possibly consider support for the vasectomy and ovary-sparing spay if enough high-quality studies prove negative long-term health effects with full spay or neuters. Keep in mind that the risks for cancers or disease in those organs, will remain. If the long-term health issues do occur after spaying or neutering, it seems that hormone restoration therapy may be beneficial to symptomatic spayed and neutered dogs.

Why are rescues so STRICT when it comes to sterilization?
It is counterintuitive to our mission as rescuers to allow puppies, kittens, birds or bunnies to be homed where there are any unsterilized animals. We would not have this massive overpopulation crisis if people sterilized their pets. Be extremely weary of any organization that is not asking why you have unsterilized pets, who sells animals (not doing home checks and contracts), or who breeds themselves, and we have such organizations locally! We believe that responsible pet guardians sterilize their pets, so even if you adopt a dog, we want your bunny to be sterilized.

Be part of the solution and join the spay & neuter revolution
Changing the fate of animals and the massive overpopulation crisis resolves around three principles namely sterilization, education, and stricter and enforced laws for those who don’t respond to being asked nicely.  No breeding can be “responsible” when we have a massive overpopulation crisis and when you support breeders, pet shops or free animals, you are part of the problem.

  • Spay & neuter your pets.
  • Share, educate & advocate for it.
  • Donate to spay & neuter campaigns.
  • Support petitions and legislation on the topic.
  • Don’t support animal dealers, breeders, or pet shops that fuel the overpopulation crisis.
  • Keep your animals safe in your yard.
  • Adopt from reputable organizations. This is the only ethical option!

 Although we promote adoption, we can’t adopt our way out of this problem, so we need to fix (pardon the pun) it. We have heard all the bad excuses and debunked the myths.


Source: The Bulletin

Breeding animals creates a problem

Breeding animals creates a problem

Image: Pixabay

Breeding creates a massive overpopulation crisis but also raise some serious ethical & Welfare concerns.
A human baby factory is a great business idea…… or did you frown upon imagining this form of exploitation? If this is not ok with humans, how can you justify breeding exploitation for other sentient beings? For this article, we will not address the agricultural breeding of livestock and game or for experimentation, as it is a whole topic on its own.  Today we will focus on breeding, whether by accident or deliberately, with domestic companion animals.

For years there has been this ethical & welfare debate regarding breeding. The animal welfare arguments usually form the basis for the debate as health should always trump looks, but there is certainly an ethical argument too. The debate has mostly taken place around the breeding of animal for experimentation and livestock production. It is important to reflect on the changes in the genetic makeup of companion animals.

Even since prehistoric times, humans have kept useful animals around the area they live. Over thousands of years, the domestication of dogs specifically has led to distinct types of dogs and breeding for various types of functionalities like hunting, livestock guardians, working dogs, sighthounds, tracking dogs, vermin control, etc. Nowadays many animals have become companion animals and even though many of these functionalities are not needed, those breeds are still bred.

During the mid-19th century when kennel/breed clubs developed, breeding became more intense, and many breeds developed since then. Dogs were now not only bred for functionality but for their unique mutations like shortened legs or faces, colours or textures, etc. Dog shows became a sport where you brag about the ‘’look’’ of the animal, sometimes their skills.

The first recognition of animals as ‘’sentient beings’’ (can experience feelings) which appeared in written law was in France in 1976 and has been included in Animal Welfare Acts in many countries since then. Many of these countries have very strict laws about animal welfare and breeding and they enforce the law, but in SA there is still a lot of work to be done.

Breeders & Brokers
I define breeders as anyone who allows their pet to have litters and then either exploits them for financial gain, for status or gives them away for free or hoard them. So, fundamentally there is no difference for us between a registered breeder, backyard breeder, or puppy mill. They all exploit animals for financial gain and animals pay the price. We divide the breeders basically into 3 categories:

Back yard Breeders
They have a couple of animals and do nothing to prevent them from having litters. In other cases, pets are deliberately bred so that the offspring can be sold and it is often these cases where overbreeding occurs. Basically, irresponsible pet owners.

Puppy Mills
They mass-produce animals in poor conditions. As many as they can, back-to-back as fast as they can.

Registered Breeders
Breeders treat living beings as commodities to be genetically manipulated for profit. It is crucial to understand that being registered does not make them responsible. The process for registration is way too easy and something we are working on. These individuals usually have a particular breed and they see themselves as ‘expert’ on the breed. Many also partake in dog shows to brag. It is either love of money or love of status that drives them. Many animals have been confiscated from “registered” breeders, by animal welfare organizations. So, this piece of paper means nothing to us! If we took away the money and status, how many people will continue to breed on purpose apart from the irresponsible owners?

Some breeders claim to be responsible, but when we have a massive overpopulation crisis and killing millions of healthy animals a year (at least 2800 a day in SA), then no breeding can be responsible or ethical. The fact that purebred animals in shelters have drastically increased over the last few years to 25 % and more is a clear sign of a deeply flawed argument.

Also, read about the bad arguments they use to justify the exploitation of animals.

Another problem that helps fuel this massive overpopulation crisis are the brokers and and animal dealers.

These are people who are engaged in re-selling animals. Like a middle-man who adds their profit. This includes pet shops and individuals. If you allow people to advertise on your platforms or at your shop, then you are also part of this problem. Even when you are advertising for your friends/family! We have had people who start an animal welfare organization, but support breeding or breed themselves and some who use it as a front for being a pet shop.

Image: Pixabay

There should be animal-ethical, political, and society-wide discussions regarding the future of pedigree breeding. Here are a few ethical questions to consider:

  • How far are we allowed to interfere in the genetic makeup of animals through breeding and genetic modification?
  • Is it acceptable to manufacture a dog that fits your wish list?
  • If a baby factory is not ok when it comes to humans, why would this be ok with other living beings?
  • Even though dogs adjust to adaptation relatively easily, should these adaptations through breeding be done for the next fashion craze, and what if the craze blows over?
  • What happens to the animal when the breeder has used them up?

Our concerns here are divided into mainly 4 issues, but not limited to just them and in no particular order. This includes, how the animals are kept, overpopulation, health & behaviour, and bad breeding practices.

How they are kept:
Remember that the breeder mentality sees these animals as commodities and not as companions. Some of these breeders keep the animals in terrible and confined conditions and this is the part that the public does not see, but animal welfare workers witness very often.

Health & Behaviour:
Dogs are monoestrous breeders meaning that they have one breeding cycle per year, however, this can vary between breeds. If a particular bloodline is continuously bred this amplifies both the good and bad attributes of the breed.

Although they have bred the look they want, they have also bred breed-specific health issues for each and every breed. The breeders brag about how they guarantee health, but what they can guarantee is that a Weimaraner’s stomach could turn at some stage, that a Great Dane will have heart problems, that an Alsatian will struggle with hip issues, or that a Bulldog could have breathing difficulties etc.

When used as commodities, many of these animals do not experience play or affection nor are they allowed the freedom of expressing natural behaviour, which is one of the 5 freedoms of animal welfare. Pregnancy and birth in any species come with inherent risks to the mother and the fetus. Repeating the cycle increases the risks. Do you know that some breeders use what we call rape-stands?

Many breeders want the parents to “look good”, so they remove the pups relatively early, so the mom’s mammaries do not sag. Removing them early is bad for the mom and pups. Studies have shown that it is ideal for pups and kittens to stay with their moms for up to 12/13 weeks. They learn valuable behaviour from their mom and if the breeder really cared about that then they would not let them go at 8 weeks or even earlier as the latest trends show, plus the breeder can make sure they get all their vaccinations up to 12 weeks. Letting them go early saves the breeder money. These sentient beings also experience the loss of the pups/kittens as any mother would with her baby. Don’t you think that matters?


How they are disposed of:
If they maybe just used the bitch for four years, what happens to her afterward? They can’t possibly keep all of them if they made a business out of it? The average lifespan of dogs is much higher than just 4 or 6 years and the cost of proper care is not cheap. You do the maths. Many of them are dumped at shelters, sometimes even moms with the last litter or while still pregnant. Animals, like some parrots, easily live up to 60 years.

Tail docking & ear cropping
Tail docking and ear-cropping are the practices of removing an area of a dog’s tail or ear. It is purely for cosmetic reasons and is considered cruelty and illegal in many countries, including SA.  In addition to being cruel and unnecessary in addition to the ill effects it has on things like posture, and body language, and how bad you affect their dog-to-dog communication.

Overbreeding, inbreeding & early breeding
Overbreeding involves breeding an animal more than their body can safely handle resulting in detrimental health effects to the mother and her puppies while contributing to the overpopulation. Especially with puppy mills, inbreeding also occurs which can be detrimental for health. Breeding animals way too early is another concern.

Pushing limits
Some breeders push the limits causing extensive health issues for the dogs they are breeding. English bulldogs are a great example of this. Their breeding is heavily restricted in many countries or even banned.

Promoting purebred superiority
When people hear dog breeding, they hear purebred dog breeding. Often a mixed breed or rescue dog is referred to as a downgrade or “mutt”.

Not properly vetting the buyers:
How extensively do you think the breeders, who see these animals as commodities, really vet their buyers? How many breeders drive to the buyer’s house? Virtual home checks are not acceptable for me and follow-ups are crucial if you care about these animals. I believe animals are already in the wrong hands when they are from a breeder, so how can the wrong hands determine what is best for this animal?

Breeding animals creates a problem

Redesigned dog breeds
Dr. Karen Becker a veterinarian who understands the overpopulation crisis and genetics has written about how breeding has deformed once healthy dog breeds. She looks at 8 breeds specifically including what we call the poster child of bad breeding namely the English Bulldog. These are not the only ones though.

“Breeders may consider them ‘improvements,’ but when you take a closer look at how they’re affecting the dogs’ quality of life and longevity, but they’re anything but! Before humans began their “remodelling” project and playing god, dogs like the Bull Terrier, Boxer, English Bulldog, and Dachshund were well-proportioned, generally healthy, and physically active, but not anymore.

Over the years, several breeds have been deliberately fashioned to exaggerate certain physical traits at the expense of their health, longevity, and quality of life. Today’s German Shepherd Dog, with his sloped back and incoordination, is no longer the canine athlete he once was; the modern-day Pug comes with an extensive list of brachycephalic-related disorders that make his health a constant concern.Breeding physically resilient, healthy dogs has been replaced with breeding for the sole purpose of attaining twisted beauty pageant awards, and breeding for aesthetics has cost us the health of beloved breeds.”

As a veterinarian, Dr. Karen has seen first-hand the problems created when dogs are bred exclusively to achieve specific features, without concern for their health, mobility, or quality of life. It is deeply disturbing that, with all we know about the suffering these animals endure, breeders persist in exaggerating their dogs’ physical characteristics, even if it means sacrificing their health, and national kennel clubs condone it.

A note on genetics.  Anyone who knows anything about breeding knows that forcing two dogs that “look good”, to mate (whether they have papers or not) is not a guarantee of a good litter. Stellar genetics needs testing and an understanding of genetics. It is about bloodlines, not looking nice. Often an excuse for the exploitation of animals through breeding is that they care about the future of the breed.

I don’t buy into that narrative. If you are not doing genetic testing, behavioural assessments, keeping pups with mom for 12 weeks, and a whole bunch of other responsible actions then you do not really care about the future of that breed. If you crop ears or dock tails then you also do not care about the animals because it is cruel and unnecessary.

I agree with the Science and Dogs blogger, Caen Elegans, who concludes:

“No dog breed has ever been improved by the capricious and arbitrary decision that a shorter or longer or flatter or bigger or smaller or curlier ‘whatever’ is better. Condemning a dog to a lifetime of suffering for the sake of looks is not an improvement; it is torture.”

We domesticated these animals and created this problem, so it is now our moral duty to fix it and do better for these animals who do not have a voice in the matter. This animal welfare issue needs to be addressed through education, sterilization campaigns, and stricter breeding regulations.

What you can do?

  • Sterilize your pets.
  • Keep them safe in your yard.
  • Micro-chip them & put a tag on their collar.
  • Don’t support ”free to good home” ads.
  • Don’t support breeders of any kind or brokers including pet shops that sell live animals.
  • Adopt don’t shop (without physical home checks and sterilization their contracts it is not adoption, even if the organization is registered).
  • If you are familiar with the breeder, then invite them to a shelter with you.
  • Educate others.

Capitalizing on the life of an animal, especially since they don’t have the luxury of a choice, for personal and financial gain is one of the most selfish acts and causes many to lose their lives. Asking people nicely to consider the well-being of these animals doesn’t seem to have quite the effect and for that reason, we are working on legislation to put an end to the unnecessary killing of healthy animals because there are just not enough homes.


Source: The Bulletin

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Do YOU have some questions or bad excuses about spaying and neutering?

Do YOU have some questions or bad excuses about spaying and neutering?

Here are some answers to the bad excuse, myths, and frequently asked questions about spaying and neutering your pets.
Last week we looked at many of the benefits of spaying and neutering your pets including curbing the massive overpopulation crisis, health, behaviour, and other community benefits. We also looked at different methods and criticism around spaying and neutering your pets. Today I want to focus on some frequently asked questions about spaying and neutering, bad excuses for not spaying and neutering and debunking some common myths about this important topic.

I am not a veterinarian, but I follow trusted veterinarians’ advice on healthcare. It is still important to look at your individual pet, their breed, and health and to discuss it with the vet who will be operating. 

Do YOU have some questions or bad excuses about spaying and neutering?

(Shared by Spay and Neuter SA)

Even though this procedure is a common procedure for vets, not all vets are good at it, so do your homework on the vet! Cats & dogs are common patients, but please use an exotic-qualified vet for other animals!

Since the massive overpopulation crisis includes more than just cats and dogs, in general, we advise that all animals are spayed/neutered, but there might be exceptions due to safety or medical reasons. Spaying or neutering a bird and certain reptiles is not routine surgery and can be riskier.  There are other ways to prevent litters which should be done under the guidance of experts with highly responsible pet parents.

This is a controversial topic we touched on last week and you need to do your homework for your individual pet and their breed, but an experienced vet can spay and neuter at an age as young as 6-8 weeks old. The risks involved with anesthesia may be slightly greater at this age.  Older females that are not spayed are at risk too. There is generally no other age limit for the procedure as long as your pet is healthy and the vet’s skills play a role.  My dogs were neutered around 6 months of age and personally I don’t advise earlier than that.

Please prevent this, but if it did happen, the suggested time for animals that have recently given birth is about 2 weeks after the young have been weaned and the mother’s milk has dried up. Pups and kittens should stay with mom for 12 weeks as they learn valuable behaviour from mom.

Even though spay and neutering are major surgical procedures, they are some of the most common procedures done by vets.  As with any surgery, there are risks associated with anesthesia and potential surgical complications. The overall occurrence of these risks is very rare.

During a spay or neuter surgery, the animal is fully anesthetized, so they feel no pain. Afterward, some animals seem to experience some discomfort temporarily, but with pain medication, discomfort may not be experienced at all.

Although possible, most vets will probably advise against spaying a female in heat due to more swelling and a higher risk of bleeding. This surgery may take longer and be more expensive.

Apart from the usual veterinary advice like keeping your pet still and keeping the wound clean, you also need to phone your vet the moment you think something is not right and keep the freshly-neutered males away from non-spayed females for some time. According to, most spay and neuter skin incisions are fully healed within about 10–14 days, which coincides with the time that stitches or staples, if any, will need to be removed.

When it comes to male neuters for various species, after the testicles are removed, it takes time for all of the residual sperm to clear out of the pipes. Ask your vet how long, but some sources suggest days to weeks. During this time, a freshly-neutered male can possibly still impregnate females.

It probably depends on what you spend money on and whether your pet’s health is a priority to you. The cost of spaying or neutering depends on the sex, size, and age of the pet, your veterinarian’s fees, and a few other factors. Remember that spay or neuter surgery is a one-time cost and the cost far outweighs the cost of health-related issues due to not spaying and neutering, or raising litters. There are many opportunities to do this at more affordable rates and adoption fees include it!

In general, spaying tends to be more expensive than neutering. Spaying involves opening your dog or cat’s stomach to access the animal’s reproductive organs whereas neutering is less complex.

The cost may vary from town to town, but according to, the average cost of a spay in South Africa is around R1350 for a female cat and around R1800 to a crazy R4000 for a female dog. Neuters can cost around R750-R1000 for a male cat and around R1200 – R2500 for a male dog.

Do YOU have some questions or bad excuses about spaying and neutering?

(Shared by Spay & Neuter SA)

MYTH: If I’m a responsible owner who keeps my animals from wandering around, I don’t need to sterilize my animals.
FACT: Accidents happen……you know that guy called Murphy? We have countless cases where another unsterilized animal got into that yard and guess what……a litter was born.

MYTH: My pet will get fat and lazy.
FACT: Pets get fat and lazy because their owners feed them too much food and don’t exercise them enough. Choosing a diet that is species-appropriate and suited to the health and lifestyle of your pet is important to prevent weight gain.

MYTH: She needs to have one litter before she is spayed.

FACT: This is factually, medically, and ethically indefensible. Many veterinarians and more recent research recommend that animals are spayed before their first heat cycle (before the age of 7 months or so). This drastically reduces the risk of mammary tumors later in life and prevents uterine infections and unwanted pregnancy. Pregnancy can put unnecessary stress on your pet’s body. There may be exceptions.

MYTH: My children should experience the miracle of birth.
FACT: Even if children can see a pet give birth, which is unlikely, since it usually occurs at night and in seclusion, the lesson they will learn is that animals can be created and discarded as it suits adults. Instead, it should be explained to children that the real miracle is life and that preventing the birth of some pets by spaying and neutering, we can save the lives of others.

MYTH: It was an unexpected litter.
FACT:  If your pets are not sterilized, you can totally expect it!

MYTH: A pet’s behaviour changes dramatically after surgery.
FACT: The spaying and neutering will most likely not alter your pet’s basic personality which is mainly determined by the breed and a few other factors. It can result in some behavioural changes, but usually for the better! Spraying and lifting their legs by males might continue if they developed the behaviour before the surgery or while their male sex hormone levels diminish after surgery which can be a few weeks. Spaying and neutering does not affect a dog’s instinct to protect the home and family.

MYTH: We don’t need to neuter males, because they aren’t the ones having the litters.
FACT: This is the most prevalent myth yet the most ridiculous. It takes two to tango in case you missed biology class. A female can have one litter at a time, but the same male can impregnate many females in a short time.

Do YOU have some questions or bad excuses about spaying and neutering?

One of the worst excuses I have heard is that preventing pets from having litters is unnatural and that if God thought it was a problem, he would make them sterile.  The fact is that we have already interfered with nature by domesticating dogs, cats, and other animals. We domesticated the dog 15 000 years ago and the cat 8 000 years ago. In doing so, we helped create this problem. Now it’s our responsibility to solve it. It’s also unnatural to be killing so many of them in our pounds and shelters each year. You can’t blame the shelters, but you should blame breeders and dealers of any kind.

I’ll find good homes for all the puppies and kittens; we want just one litter.

The whole overpopulation crisis is caused by this line of thinking (or lack of thinking). You may find homes for all of your pet’s litter, but each home you find means one less home for the dogs and cats in shelters. Also, in less than one year, each of your pet’s offspring may have his or her own litter, adding even more animals to the population. The problem of pet overpopulation is created and perpetuated one litter at a time.

Spaying and neutering is too expensive. Whatever the actual price, spay or neuter surgery is a one-time cost and a relatively small cost when compared to all the benefits.  It’s a bargain compared to the cost of having a litter and ensuring the health of the mother and litter, to treat cancers or injuries from fights.  There are many well-priced spaying and neutering opportunities if you look for them.

My dog is purebred and they do not end up in shelters. Wrong darling, in the last few years purebreds in shelters, have increased drastically to around 25%, or even more by now. It is sad that you value one life more than another.

I can’t look my pet in the eyes and castrate or spay them.  How about looking into the eyes of the animals in shelters who will be humanely killed because people didn’t sterilize their pets? Did you know that about 2800 healthy animals are euthanized (humanely killed) DAILY IN SA?

Do YOU have some questions or bad excuses about spaying and neutering?

Image: Pixabay

Changing the fate of animals and the massive overpopulation crisis resolves around three principles namely spaying and neutering, education, and stricter and enforced laws for those who don’t respond to being asked nicely.  No breeding can be “responsible” when we have a massive overpopulation crisis.

  • Spay & neuter your pets.
  • Share, educate & advocate for it.
  • Donate to spay & neuter campaigns.
  • Support petitions and legislation on the topic.
  • Don’t support animal dealers, breeders, or pet shops that fuel the overpopulation crisis.
  • Keep your animals safe in your yard.
  • Adopt from reputable organizations. This is the only ethical option!

We cannot adopt our way out of this massive overpopulation crisis and we can’t save the animals as fast as breeders are breeding them.  Please help us change lives, by spaying and neutering your pets to prevent unwanted litters. You can also help by educating others on this topic and by not supporting free animal ads, breeders in any form, pet shops, or animal brokers.


Source: The Bulletin

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Choosing a pet for your child

Choosing a pet for your child

Choosing a pet for your child is a big decision and NOT one to be taken lightly!
Research shows that a pet can contribute to a child’s development physically, by strengthening their immune system, and emotionally by creating an irreplaceable relationship. It is a great way to learn responsibility and compassion, however, it should never be at the expense of an animal and parents should be very involved in the care.  

Choosing to get a pet:
There are many factors to take into account including, but not limited to:

Your lifestyle. Do you have time to meet the needs of this animal? Children with busy schedules and families who travel a lot can’t spend enough time with their pets.

Your energy levels. If you are not very active, then getting a high-energy dog like a Border Collie or Jack Russell is a no-go.

Your resources. Most animals are very expensive to take care of and if you can’t afford veterinary visits, proper species-appropriate food, etc., then please do not let the animal pay the price. This includes vaccination, deworming, annual check-ups, microchip sterilization, etc.

Your commitment. Most of the time it is at least a 10 to 15-year commitment. If you are really committed, you will also do proper research about their needs before you decide on a specific pet. Are you willing to work on behaviour issues if they occur instead of just giving the pet away?

Your yard. All animals, including cats, should be kept safe in your yard. You need enough space for the animal to run and play. Small yards do not equal small dogs!

Other factors:

  • Some pets are much noisier, messier, or need lots of attention.
  • Some need social mates of a similar species and some are more solitary and some should not be kept with a particular other species.
  • Some get stressed or depressed easily.
  • Some have sensitive digestive systems, are prone to specific health conditions, and are sensitive to household chemicals or even items like candles, cookware, etc.
  • You might need a permit to have this animal, which may differ between provinces.
  • If a child or parent is scared of the particular specie, it could have a detrimental effect on the animal and the humans, for life.
  • Not all vets are experts on all types of animals especially exotic pets! Do you have a vet close by for this particular pet?
  • You need a plan for your pet in your will or in case of an emergency.

Choosing a pet for your child: (C-C-C)

Compatibility – Some people are cat people and some are dog people. You need to choose a pet for your specific child.  The behaviour of the animal is important because if they are nocturnal for instance, it will limit the time your child has to spend with them. Chinchillas might need cooler temperatures so if your child/family gets cold easily, then they are not ideal. If the animal is a low-energy species/breed or doesn’t like noise then a busy or loud child will not be compatible.

Care – The age and sense of responsibility of your child as well as time to care for the pet, are important factors. The animal’s health, environment, diet, enrichment, intelligence, behaviour, and companionship are just some of the other factors to take into account. Some animals do not like cuddles or to be handled (many actually including cats and dogs). Rabbits e.g., have a heavy backside in relation to their head so picking them up wrong can hurt them badly. They can even break their own back with a single kick. We strongly advise against rabbits as starter pets for kids!

Cost – Food, enrichment, and health care are just some factors when it comes to cost. No animal is “free”. Breeding cycles of some are a few days and inbreeding can happen in many species, so sterilization is key! Never get a pet if you can’t afford to meet ALL their needs!

Choosing a pet for your child

Image by Dr. Karen Becker

Let’s look at fish for example:
During the holiday a pet shop did a post saying that parents should get a Goldfish for their kids as it is a fun and easy way to teach children responsibility and they suggested that Goldfish are a great starter pet for kids. They also said that they only need a small tank, some food, and some water changes. As someone who research and write a lot on animal topics, I think it is terrible advice!

First, in my experience, pet shops, are rarely experts on animal needs and behaviours. They also fuel the animal trading industry and encourage impulse buying. Just because they sell a cage as an “African grey” cage or a fish tank for fish, does not make it the right cage or tank for that animal. I do not trust anyone who exploits animals for financial gain, to have the best interest of the animals at heart. We will bring an end to this terrible practice, but for now, we need the public to help by not supporting any form of exploitation of animals, especially pet shops that sell live animals and breeders.

Also, your child’s need for fun, just like visiting the circus, can and should never trump the life and needs of a sentient being. If you are getting a fish or any pet to show off, then you are doing it for the wrong reasons and the animals always pays the price.

That said, here are just a few reasons why fish are not good starter pets for kids and why they often suffer:

Disadvantages of fish as pets:

  1. It costs more than you think.
  2. They are long-term pets.
  3. Setting up your aquarium takes time.
  4. Aquariums require regular “skilled” maintenance.
  5. Vacations require more planning.
  6. They aren’t tactile and interactive so not companion animals
  • You can’t just buy the fish and put it in an aquarium. You need to perform a task called cycling your aquarium which is forcing your tank to go through the nitrogen cycle before you can just add a fish.
  • Did you ever consider taking your fish to the vet?  Apart from the fact that we do not have exotic pet vets in our area, if you did not think that this might be necessary, then you should not have a fish.  They are sentient beings who can feel pain and have needs.
  • Fish are not a temporary pet, although they can easily die with the wrong care. Most parents just flush it down the drain and buy a new one.  This does not teach your child responsibility and also teaches them that animals can just be replaced.
  • Taking care of fish involves chemistry. You will need to regularly test the water to monitor pH, KH, GH, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates among others. In addition to testing the water quality, you also need to feed them species appropriate food, change the aquarium water, vacuum the bottom of the aquarium and clean the walls, rinse the filter and more. Personally, I do not trust the tap water for my pets.
  • Essential aquarium equipment, such as filters, heaters, air pumps, and lighting, all run on electricity. If you use a tank with a pump and electricity, do you have a backup when we have load shedding or days with unexpected power interruptions?
  • Going on holiday requires planning, as for other animals too, but this is not as easy as to play, and give food and water for a cat or dog. So, not anyone can just look after your fish.
  • If you truly meet their needs, the right size tank, and aquarium will cost money!
  • You need to understand their body language and most people can’t even read the easier body language of dogs.
Choosing a pet for your child

Image: Pexels

Animal needs:
The five freedoms of animal welfare is a good test of whether you are a good caretaker. Freedom from hunger/thirst, pain/injury/disease, discomfort, fear/distress, and freedom to express normal behaviour. You need to meet their needs with regards to food, water, enclosure (light, substrate and flooring, humidity, right size vertical and horizontal, temperatures, ventilation, etc.), safety, medical care, behaviour, enrichment (social, physical, food, cognitive, habitat, sensory) and more.

Safety needs to be one of the primary goals when mixing children and animals and should never be unsupervised!

  • NEVER LEAVE a young child alone with an animal, for any reason. Any dog can bite; any cat can scratch.
  • Provide feedback to children by pointing out signs that the animal is uncomfortable or scared. This helps develop a child’s understanding of the animal’s body language and maintains safety for all involved.
  • Encourage your child to be gentle when touching pets. Never allow children to pull tails, ears, or roughhouse with any animal. Never sit on or ride animals. “One hand is enough, two hands is to rough.”
  • Don’t encourage hugs, most animals do not enjoy hugging and this could easily end in a bite.
  • Never punish a growl. The growl is a way the animal communicates that they are uncomfortable. When you punish the growl, they might skip it next time and go straight to a bite.
  • Never allow a child to approach an unknown animal alone. Ask the animal’s guardian if they are child-friendly and then instead of approaching further, call the animal into your space for physical contact. If the animal does not approach, leave them alone because the animal’s consent should also matter!

Other consideration:

  • Teach your child that they are guardians, not owners because animals are sentient beings with feeling and not objects or commodities to dispose of when they are inconvenient. It creates a deeper level of compassion, respect, and responsibility for these sentient beings we choose to share our lives with.
  • Choosing the wrong pet for your child could have a lifetime effect on your child as well as on the pet themselves, especially when being passed on from one home to another over their lifespan. Some animals like parrots and tortoises can grow to be 60-plus years old.
  • If you choose to get exotic pets, then it is crucial to have an exotic pet vet in your area as not all vets are equipped or skilled enough to treat exotic animals even if they claim they can. So do your homework!
  • A great place to start is to visit various reputable animal rescues or sanctuaries with your children to learn more.
  • If you can no longer take care of the animal (may this never happen), please surrender them to the nearest SPCA or re-home only through a reputable organization. DO NOT GIVE THEM AWAY FOR FREE TO COMPLETE STRANGERS!

Check out this video on which animals will not be good pets for children due to cost and care requirements. The ones in the video are just some of the most common pets that are not ideal for children. I will also add rabbits to the list! (note the temparatures are not degrees Celsius)

For many reasons, we discourage keeping wild/exotic animals as pets or any animals in cages. When you support this, the cycle continues! Please do not support breeders, “free to good home” or pet shops (any animal dealers). Please sterilize your pets because we have a massive overpopulation crisis and many healthy pets (at least 2800 a day in SA) are euthanized annually because of it.


Source: The Bulletin

Do you have a digging dog in your garden?

Do you have a digging dog in your garden?

Image: Pixabay

Unearthing the thruth about dogs and their digging demeanor:
Dogs are some special creatures that we have domesticated for thousands of years. Even though they adapt well to living amongst humans, they still retain natural behaviour and digging is a very common one.  It is deeply ingrained in their genetic makeup and it also serves various purposes in the wild. While it may seem frustrating or destructive for their guardians in a domestic setting, understanding the underlying reasons behind this behaviour can help dog guardians better manage and address it. In this article, we will delve deeper into this natural behaviour and explore why these paws are in action!

Why do dogs dig?
Dogs dig for a variety of reasons, stemming from their ancestral roots and innate instincts. Here are some of the main reasons why dogs exhibit digging behaviour:

  • Instinctual Behaviour: Digging is a natural instinct for dogs that can be traced back to their wild ancestors. Wolves, from whom domestic dogs descended, dig dens for shelter, protection, and raising their young. This innate behaviour is deeply ingrained in their genetic makeup and can manifest in different ways. Digging may also be part of a nesting instinct, particularly if your dog is pregnant (hopefully she is spayed!).
  • Seeking Comfort: Dogs may dig to create a comfortable resting spot. By digging and rearranging the ground or bedding, they can create a cool or warm area to lie down in, depending on the weather. It allows them to regulate their body temperature and find a cosy spot to relax.
  • Hiding or Burying Possessions: Dogs often have a strong desire to bury their valued possessions, such as bones (this can be dangerous), toys, or treats. This behaviour mimics the ancestral behaviour of storing food for future consumption or hiding it from potential competitors. Digging and burying their prized items is an instinctual behaviour to protect and preserve their resources.
  • Escape or Exploration: Dogs may dig in an attempt to escape from an enclosed area or to explore the world beyond their immediate surroundings. They might be driven by curiosity, the desire for freedom, or even boredom. Digging provides an outlet for their natural curiosity and allows them to investigate scents and sounds that pique their interest.
  • Anxiety, Stress or Boredom: Some dogs may resort to digging as a coping mechanism for anxiety or stress. It can serve as a way to alleviate pent-up energy, frustration, or restlessness. Digging provides an outlet for their emotional state and can temporarily distract them from their worries.
  • Breed-Specific Traits: Certain dog breeds have a higher predisposition to digging due to their genetic background or specific roles they were bred for. Terriers, for example, were historically bred for hunting vermin, and their digging abilities were crucial in pursuing prey underground.
  • Maybe they just do it because it is fun!

Understanding the underlying motivations for a dog’s digging behaviour is essential in addressing and managing it effectively.

Do you have a digging dog in your garden?

Image: Pexels

Some breeds will dig more than others
While digging behaviour can vary from dog to dog, certain breeds are known to have a higher predisposition to digging due to their genetic background or historical roles. Here are a few breeds that are often associated with a propensity for digging:

Terriers: Terrier breeds, such as Jack Russell Terriers, Dachshunds, and Yorkshire Terriers, have a strong instinct to dig. They were originally bred for hunting small game, and their digging abilities were crucial for pursuing prey into burrows and dens.

Hounds: Some hound breeds, including Beagles and Basset Hounds, have a natural inclination to dig. This behaviour may stem from their history of tracking scents and pursuing game through different terrains.

Dachshunds: As small hunting dogs originally bred for tracking and retrieving game, Dachshunds have a keen sense of smell and an instinct to dig. Their long bodies and strong front paws make them particularly adept at digging and burrowing.

Siberian Huskies: While their digging behaviour is not as pronounced as some other breeds, they may dig when they are bored, attempting to escape, or seeking a cool spot to lie down.

Australian Terriers: Australian Terriers, known for their energetic and adventurous nature, tend to dig. They were initially bred to control vermin in Australian mines, and their digging skills were essential for their work.

Remember that individual dogs within these breeds may exhibit varying degrees of digging behaviour. Additionally, it’s important to note that digging behaviour is not limited to specific breeds and can be observed in dogs of any breed or mixed breed.

How can I manage digging behaviour
Your goal should never be to stop digging completely. It is a natural behaviour and all animals should have the freedom to display natural behaviour. If you’re looking to help your dog with digging behaviour, here are some strategies you can try:

  • Provide a designated digging area: Create a specific area in your yard where your dog is allowed to dig. This can be a designated sandbox or a specific spot filled with loose soil. Encourage your dog to use this area by burying toys or treats in it. Offer lots of praise when they’ve done so. Read more on sensory gardens for your pets and creating pet-friendly gardens. Remember that certain plants may be toxic to your animals and be very careful if you use any pesticides or chemicals in your yard.
  • Increase exercise and mental stimulation: Dogs that are bored or have excess energy may resort to digging as a form of entertainment or release. Ensure that your dog is getting enough physical exercise through daily walks, playtime, or engaging in activities like fetch. Additionally, provide mental stimulation through interactive toys, puzzle feeders, or training sessions to keep their minds occupied and reduce boredom.
  • Supervise and distract: Always intervene calmly. If you catch them digging in an “off-limits” area, call them to you (or go fetch them if they have a selective hearing) and immediately guide (redirect) them to an appropriate activity or engage them in play in the designated area to redirect their energy. Use a distraction technique such as a firm “no” to redirect their attention. Never punish your dog for digging a hole. Even if you bring your dog to the dig site, he won’t be able to associate his digging with the punishment. After a bit of practice, your dog will learn that digging is only permitted in this spot.
  • Ensure adequate space and enrichment: Dogs may dig out of frustration or a lack of mental stimulation. Make sure your dog has enough space to move around comfortably and explore. Provide them with toys, chew items, and interactive games to keep them engaged and entertained. Rotate toys regularly to maintain their interest.
  • Positive reinforcement and training: Use positive reinforcement to reward your dog for desired behaviour. When they dig in the designated area or engage in appropriate activities, praise and reward them with treats, verbal cues, or a favourite toy. Consistency is key in reinforcing positive behaviour and helping them understand what is expected of them. The whole family should be consistent in this.
  • Address underlying anxiety or stress: If your dog’s digging behaviour is driven by anxiety or stress, it’s important to address the underlying cause. Consult with a certified dog behaviourist (there is difference between trainer and behaviourist) or a veterinarian behaviourist to develop a behaviour modification plan. They can help you identify triggers and implement techniques to reduce your dog’s anxiety. Remember that behaviour doesn’t change overnight!
  • Provide a cool area: Some dogs dig until they reach a cool layer of earth in which to rest. For these dogs, make sure they have a cool spot to relax in the warmer months. Reward them for relaxing in this area by associating this area with relaxed eating, grooming and affection.

Remember, patience and consistency are crucial when modifying your dog’s behaviour. It’s important to provide alternative outlets for their natural instincts and reinforce positive behaviour while redirecting them away from inappropriate digging. By understanding their needs and providing appropriate guidance and stimulation, you can help curb excessive digging behaviour in your dog.

Secure your yard well with diggers

If you have diggers, then it is crucial to secure your yard better! It’s not worth the risk of your pet escaping by taking half-measures if your dog has begun digging under your fence. Either prevent your dog from having any unsupervised time in the yard or get serious about a dig-proof barrier. Some advice from Petology.

  • If they squeeze through or dig underneath your can buy or custom make metal dig-defence barriers with spikes, which goes deep into the ground.  If your fence is secure, but not your gate, consider a gate plate.
  • You can pour a concrete footer along the perimeter of the fence and bury/mount the bottom of the fence into the mixture.
  • Install an L-Footer/skirt/apron along the bottom of the fence, facing inwards.  You can use a wire mesh fence, hardware cloth or a piece of chain-link fence attached to the base of the fence.  Bury it so that it is not visible to the eye, or lay it on top of the grass and hold it down with pins/stakes, rocks, gravel, mulch or even planters.
Do you have a digging dog in your garden?


In conclusion, digging is a natural behaviour for dogs that can be influenced by a variety of factors, including instinct, comfort-seeking, territorial instincts, curiosity, and anxiety. While it may be frustrating or destructive in a domestic setting, understanding the reasons behind this behaviour can help you address it effectively. By providing appropriate outlets for your dog’s digging instincts, such as designated digging areas, increasing exercise and mental stimulation, supervising and redirecting their behaviour, and addressing any underlying anxiety or stress, you can help manage and reduce excessive digging.

With time, effort, and understanding, you can help your dog find more appropriate ways to satisfy their natural instincts and create a harmonious and happier environment for both you and your canine excavator!


Source: The Bulletin

Adoption is the only ethical option

Adoption is the only ethical option

Image: Pixabay

What YOU should know about saving a life through ADOPTION!
South Africa is overflowing with unwanted dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens, even rabbits, birds, and other animals. It’s sad to think that most of these animals in shelters will never experience a loving home and the security of a family they deserve.  Last week we looked at why breeding animals fuels this problem, so this week we will look at how you can save a life and help decrease the burden on animal welfare organizations.

The sad reality is that although we promote adoption, we can’t adopt our way out of this crisis.  Do you know 30 homes that want to adopt?  I don’t, and that is the number of animals that easily come into one shelter per month and there are thousands of shelters. People selfishly breed and abandon animals faster than we can save them. 

We understand that it seems easier to buy a pet, but buying a pet is part of the problem. The pet industry in South Africa is not regulated and pet shops do not promote responsible pet ownership (sterilizations, home checks, etc.). They make their profits by promoting impulse buying. I am not even talking about all the “free to good home” ones on social media.

Adoption is the only ethical option

What is adoption?
Many animals come in as strays found and other animals are dumped, abandoned, or surrendered by their owners. If these animals are not claimed by their owners within the pound period, the shelter has two options namely, euthanize or adoption. Adoption is when you give an animal from a registered and responsible rescue organization/shelter a second chance, as part of your family. You will pay an adoption fee and go through a process of responsible homing.

When you adopt you change more then one life!
Here are a few of the many benefits of adopting a pet:

  • You not only save a life but will also make resources and space available for the next one to be rescued.
  • If you can do the math, you know you will save money by adopting!
  • Adopted pets for the most part are already “trained”. 
  • You also help to lighten the load of a shelter that rescues animals and make the rescuers go on for just one more day. 
  • By adopting from a reputable shelter, it also allows you to take a stand against pet stores, puppy mills, and breeders and you do your part to put a dent in the pet-for-profit trade.
  • You can also build a relationship with the shelter that can really come in handy!
  • There is no greater kindness you can offer a frightened, confused shelter pet than a place in your heart and home. Many adoptive parents can attest to the special bonds created after adoption. 

Things to consider before adopting:

  • Are you ready for a pet? 
  • Can you afford pet care in the long term? 
  • Have you researched their specific needs and can you meet these needs? 
  • Does the animal fit your family’s lifestyle? 
  • If you live in a townhouse complex, written approval from the body corporate, that pets are allowed, must be obtained.   
  • Municipal By-laws must be adhered to with regard to the allowed number of pets.  
  • You may never know their breed, medical history, or behavioural history. 
  • You will have to pet-proof your home beforehand. 
  • Get the necessary items for your car and for travel. 
  • You will still need to buy beds, blankets, toys, leashes, deworm every 3 months, vaccinate every year, and buy good food every month, this does not even include saving for an emergency!  
  • They need to be spayed/neutered and a form of identification added, which is usually included in the adoption. 
  • Social animals should not be the only animals in the house and most need to be around their own species. 
  • They might need some training and patients to build trust, more time to adjust, and might not get along with all people or animals. 
  • Choosing the right breed for your lifestyle is however especially important.
  • Never make a decision based only on a dog’s look, size, breed, etc. The energy level of that animal should fit with that of your family. 

Out-of-town adoptions:
Adopting an animal from a shelter in another town is possible. Usually, a local animal rescue or SPCA in your town will do the home check. Out-of-town adoption however will cost more, and the travel stress can be a lot for the animal. If you change your mind, you can’t expect the shelter to cover the costs. So really think this through and commit 100% before you choose this option.

What can you expect during the process of adopting a pet?
The process and policy might differ between organizations. The process usually includes an application form, meet & greet, home check, paying an adoption fee, signing an adoption contract, sterilization and follow-up. Depending on availability for sterilization at the Veterinarian or home check schedules, this can be completed in as little as 3 or 4 days. 

Irresponsible homing is not rescue! Because there are far too many irresponsible organizations (yes in our area too) as well as scammers out there, we consider it to be a responsible adoption only when it includes the following:

  • The organization must be registered and have a clear adoption policy as well as transparency and accountability.
  • Must have a comprehensive adoption application.
  • Must require proof of address and a copy of the adopter’s ID.
  • Must do a home check in person. 
  • They must not breed or support breeding in any form. These are the biggest hypocrites “in” animal welfare.
  • May not allow adoption for someone else as this is highly irresponsible and no reputable and responsible organization will do this.
  • Must have an adoption contract that includes a sterilization policy and return policy.
  • Should do follow-up post-adoption.
  • Meet and greet with all the family members (humans and animals) is important.
  • We believe the adoption fee should at least include, sterilization, deworming, treatment for ticks and fleas, first vaccination, microchip, and ID collar.

Please note – If it is an individual who is “re-homing” their dogs or their friends’, or giving animals away for free, or selling them, then it is not an adoption and they are part of the problem by abusing the term ‘adoption’ and fueling this massive overpopulation crisis. Selling animals on Facebook goes against their community standard and should be reported to Facebook and the group admins.

About adoption fees:
If you think adoption fees are too expensive, then we will advise that you rather not get a pet.  If you do the math a responsible pet owner would do, then you will know that the adoption fee which includes sterilization and more, is relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of purchasing a pet, or even compared to getting a pet for free, and that is excluding the animal itself. 

EXAMPLE – Take a medium size female dog in Secunda and surrounding areas:

WHEN YOU BUY (Excluding cost for the animal itself.)

  • Sterilization easily up to R1500
  • Microchipping R375
  • Deworming R60
  • Vaccinations R400

TOTAL: R2335

When you adopt:
If all of the above are included in our area, it is around R1250 plus the fact that you saved a life…………which is priceless! That is a R1085 difference plus you just pick up the animal with all of it done already so saving on time and petrol.

Responsible pet owners will do all of the above for their animals and more. So, when you say adoption fees are too much, I would seriously question your math skills and sense of responsibility. If you can’t afford adoption fees, then I doubt you will be able to properly care for that animal, even if your heart is in the right place!

Adoption is the only ethical option

Home checks:
This is one of the most important aspects when it comes to the credibility of responsible animal welfare organizations. As a prospective adopter, you do not have to be afraid of a home check!  You might learn some valuable information about being a pet owner or things to look for and so, you can help educate others to imrove the lives of animals! You can also build a relationship with a very knowledgeable person which can come in handy in the future. Most organizations will give you time to make the necessary, reasonable changes and still adopt.

Some home check considerations included:

  • Access to basic needs like food, water, and shelter.
  • Fences, swimming pools, neighbour’s animals, and surrounding areas.
  • Inspection of the other animals in the home, their general condition as well as their behaviour toward their owners and other animals.
  • Children and their attitude towards the animals.

If the organization doesn’t include both a home check and sterilization then they are NOT A RESPONSIBLE ORGANIZATION and we consider them to be a pet shop. By supporting them you help fuel this massive overpopulation crisis.  No matter what they call it and even if they are registered!

Organizations get blamed for being too strict when it comes to adoptions.  If the process is too ‘hard’ for you, the commitment to the animal for their life will be impossible for you.  You must remember that we are responsible for the life of a sentient being, not just an object you buy at the shop and can return or throw away when you are not happy. It is not just about a good home, but about the right placement for the animal, considering their needs and the availability of resources to meet those needs. 

One popular critique is not allowing adoptions when all the animals in the yard are not sterilized.  It is a standard practice among reputable rescues to require any existing animals to be sterilized, even if you adopt a dog and have a cat. It is counterintuitive to our mission as rescuers to allow puppies, kittens, or bunnies to be homed where there are unsterilized animals. We would not have this massive overpopulation crisis if people sterilized their pets. It is about responsible pet owners.


  • It may take some time to gain the adopted pet’s trust.
  • After adoption they need time to adjust (3 months at least) and they might be scared at first or for extended periods.
  • The stress and diet change (which should be done correctly and be species-appropriate) can likely cause diarrhea, or maybe constipation.
  • Even if the bond is instant, you don’t know your pet yet, so take the necessary precautions around other people, children, and pets, and do not introduce them to everyone at once. You are their advocate.
  • Get some professional help from a qualified behaviourist (there is a difference between a trainer and behaviourist) if their are any behaviour concerns.
  • Shelters will not knowingly give you a sick animal, but also contact them when in doubt.
  • Not being “purebred” can actually be beneficial.
  • It is crucial to set the “house rules” and the whole family needs to stick to them and be consistent, so not to confuse the animals.

Rescue is the best breed! We always advise you to go and meet the animals available at your local shelter.  Shelter pets are not broken, they were only failed by humans, but most people only realize this after they have volunteered at the shelters.  Adopting an adult pet can even be better than a puppy and you might just fall in love with one that you never thought of.

There are breed-specific shelters and shelters for birds, rats, bunnies, and other critters.  If you like a particular breed, there are many different ones up for adoption through breed-specific rescues (e.g., google “Poodle” rescue SA).   If you can’t find the pet you’re looking for locally, consider widening your search but keep in mind the stress for the animal if you adopt from out-of-town.

In a world where thousands of animals (about 2800 in SA alone) are humanely killed (PTS/Euthanized) EVERY DAY…… adoption is the only ethical option! Visit your nearest reputable shelter and make a difference today!  ADOPT DON’T SHOP!   


Source: The Bulletin

Looking to adopt?
Search our Animal Welfare directory!

Compassion fatigue – beyond empathy

Image: Pixabay

Compassion fatigue – beyond empathy

Unraveling compassion fatigue’s impact on animal welfare workers.
Compassion fatigue is a well-known phenomenon that affects individuals in caregiving professions, and one group particularly susceptible to this condition is animal welfare workers. These dedicated individuals play a crucial role in providing care, protection, and support to animals in need. However, the nature of their work often exposes them to the distressing realities of animal abuse, neglect, and suffering, making them vulnerable to the emotional toll of compassion fatigue.

In this article, we will unravel the concept of compassion fatigue and its impact on animal welfare works as well as strategies to prevent and manage this condition. By understanding the complexities of compassion fatigue within the context of animal welfare work, we can better support these compassionate individuals and ensure the continued well-being and care of the animals they tirelessly advocate for.

To understand the fatigue of compassion, we first have to look at what compassion is.

Compassion is a profound and empathetic understanding of the suffering or distress experienced by others, coupled with a genuine desire to alleviate or lessen their pain. It is a fundamental human emotion and virtue that involves being sensitive to the needs, feelings, and circumstances of others, even if they are different from one’s own. Compassion is characterized by a deep sense of caring, kindness, and a willingness to act to help and support others, often driven by a sense of moral responsibility. Compassion is an essential aspect of building and maintaining healthy relationships, fostering a sense of community, and promoting social cohesion. It is not limited to familial or close relationships but extends to strangers and even beyond species boundaries, as seen in the case of animal welfare and environmental conservation.

Compassion fatigue is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that can occur in individuals, particularly caregivers or professionals, who regularly provide care and support to others, often in demanding or traumatic situations. It is characterized by increased feelings of emotional distress and a reduced ability to cope with the suffering or trauma of others.

Compassion fatigue can arise from consistently witnessing and empathizing with the pain, trauma, or distress experienced by others, leading to a diminished capacity to provide care and support effectively. It can impact both personal well-being and professional performance, causing symptoms such as emotional detachment, cynicism, irritability, physical exhaustion, and a sense of overwhelming burden. Recognizing and addressing compassion fatigue is crucial to prevent burnout and maintain the well-being of individuals engaged in caregiving or helping professions.

Compassion fatigue, trauma, and burnout are related concepts but have distinct differences: In summary, compassion fatigue is a specific form of exhaustion that arises from providing care, trauma refers to distressing events or experiences that overwhelm a person’s coping mechanisms, and burnout is a state of chronic exhaustion and detachment often related to work-related stress. Although they can overlap and interact, each concept captures a unique aspect of the challenges individuals may face in caregiving or demanding professions.

Compassion fatigue can affect individuals in various caregiving or helping professions, particularly those who are regularly exposed to the suffering, trauma, or emotional challenges of others. The following are some professions that are more prone to experiencing compassion fatigue:

  • Healthcare Workers
  • Mental Health Professionals
  • First Responders
  • Animal Welfare Workers
  • Teachers and Educators
  • Caregivers and Social Service Workers

It’s important to note that while these professions are more commonly associated with compassion fatigue, anyone who regularly provides care, support, or assistance to others can be at risk. Understanding the signs of compassion fatigue and implementing self-care strategies is crucial for individuals in these professions to maintain their own well-being and continue providing effective care to those in need.

 Compassion fatigue

Image by The Paw Company

Animal welfare workers are particularly susceptible to compassion fatigue due to several factors inherent in their work. Undoubtedly, animal welfare is one of the most challenging tasks to undertake. It extends far beyond conventional 8-5 working hours and exacts a toll both physically and emotionally. In this industry, the victims cannot speak for themselves and for most in society, their lives are not seen as of “equal value” compared to humans, although our courts, since 2016 recognize them as sentient beings in a landmark case. This makes the work hard on a different level. Volunteers (most don’t get paid) who commit to animal welfare find themselves confronted with heart-wrenching moments almost every day, causing them to contemplate giving up on numerous occasions

While the primary focus of your local shelter is to facilitate the adoption of hopeful animals into loving homes, their responsibilities go well beyond that. Operating tirelessly 365 days a year, the shelter takes in homeless animals, providing them with necessities such as food, water, and shelter. Moreover, they actively engage in rescuing injured or abused animals and making efforts to reunite lost pets with their families. This ongoing dedication ensures that the shelter remains steadfast in its mission to save and protect animals in need.

Here are some reasons why they may experience compassion fatigue:

  • Continuous Exposure to Animal Suffering: Animal welfare workers are consistently exposed to the distressing realities of animal abuse, neglect, and suffering. Witnessing animals in pain or facing life-threatening situations can be emotionally draining and take a toll on their well-being.
  • Empathy and Emotional Investment: Animal welfare workers often develop strong emotional connections with the animals they care for. They invest their time, energy, and compassion into improving the lives of these animals, making it harder to detach emotionally from their experiences.
  • Limited Resources and Overwhelming Workload: Animal welfare organizations often operate with limited resources, which can result in high workloads and increased stress levels for workers. The pressure to rescue, rehabilitate, and find suitable homes for animals within tight deadlines can be overwhelming.
  • Secondary Traumatic Stress: Witnessing and hearing about the traumatic experiences of animals can lead to secondary traumatic stress. The constant exposure to stories of animal cruelty and suffering can trigger feelings of helplessness, sadness, frustration, guilt and anger, further contributing to compassion fatigue. It is not only one sort of emotion you experience.
  • Challenging Work Environments: Animal welfare workers may encounter various challenges in their work environments, such as limited support, organizational constraints, dealing with difficult or uncooperative individuals, or facing criticism from the public. These factors can add to the stress and emotional strain they experience.
  • Personal Investment and High Expectations: Many individuals drawn to animal welfare work have a deep personal investment in the cause. They often hold themselves to high standards, wanting to make a significant difference in the lives of animals. This personal investment and the weight of expectations can contribute to increased stress and pressure.
  • Lack of Recognition and Acknowledgment: Animal welfare work can be emotionally demanding and often goes unnoticed or undervalued by society. None of us that are in it for the right reason, do it for recognition, but all people appreciate recognition. The lack of recognition and acknowledgment for the important work they do can lead to feelings of frustration and burnout.
  • Life and Death Decisions in Their Hands: These individuals almost on a daily basis deal with death as well as making death decision by opting to euthanize an animal for example. It is not only the sick or injured that have to die, but because of the massive overpopulation crisis we face, in SA on a DAILY BASIS, at least 2800 (yes two zeros) healthy animals have to be humanely killed. Having to make such a decision by putting a healthy animal on the list for today, is gut-wrenching in itself.

It’s important to acknowledge and address the unique challenges that animal welfare workers face to ensure their well-being and sustainability in their important roles.

Dealing with compassion fatigue is crucial for animal welfare workers to maintain their well-being and continue providing effective care to animals in need. Here are some strategies to help cope with compassion fatigue in the context of animal welfare:

Self-Care: Prioritize self-care activities that promote physical, emotional, and mental well-being. This can include engaging in hobbies, exercising regularly, practicing relaxation techniques, getting enough sleep, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Taking care of oneself allows for better resilience and the ability to handle the emotional demands of the work.

Boundaries and Time Management: Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. Set realistic expectations and avoid overextending oneself. Effective time management can help reduce stress and prevent burnout. Ensure adequate breaks, rest, and time for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Support Networks: Connect with others who share similar experiences, either within the organization or through external support groups. Peer support can provide validation, understanding, and a space to share emotions and experiences. Seek out counseling or therapy services specifically designed for animal welfare workers if needed. Find coping-strategies that work for you as an individual.

Education and Training: Continuously seek opportunities for education and training to enhance skills and knowledge in animal welfare. This can help build confidence, improve decision-making, and increase job satisfaction. Staying updated on current best practices and advancements in the field can reduce feelings of helplessness and increase effectiveness.

Mindfulness and Stress Reduction: Practice mindfulness techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, to reduce stress and promote emotional well-being. Mindfulness helps bring focus to the present moment, reducing anxiety about the past or future. Incorporate stress reduction techniques into daily routines to manage stress levels effectively.

Seek Supervision and Consultation: Consult with supervisors or mentors within the organization to discuss challenging cases, seek guidance, and process emotions. Supervision can provide an opportunity to debrief and gain support from experienced professionals. Consultation with experts in the field can offer fresh perspectives and advice on complex situations.

Take Breaks and Vacations: Allow yourself regular breaks and take vacation time to rest and recharge. Time away from work, even if it’s just a short break, can help gain perspective and prevent burnout. Ensure adequate coverage or support during absences to reduce concerns about work responsibilities. We have to except the reality that we can’t safe them all. People breed and hurt animals faster than we can rescue. We are working on ultimate solutions and I will never stop, but for now, we have to accept this sad reality.

Inspector debriefs and rotation:  A big problem in organizations with inspectors (apart from the lack of proper and enough inspectors)is that they have to deal with tough stuff alone.  It is the responsibility of their team managers and organization’s leaders to make sure these individuals get debriefed regularly and get rotational breaks (if they have more than one inspector) or at least some sort of break apart from regular leave.

Remember, self-care and recognizing the signs of compassion fatigue are essential in maintaining overall well-being and providing effective care for animals.

Research on suicide rates specifically among animal welfare workers is limited, and it is challenging to determine the exact prevalence or rates of suicide within this particular industry. However, it is important to acknowledge that the field of animal welfare can be emotionally and physically demanding, and individuals working in this sector may face stress, burnout, and mental health challenges often. Those in animal welfare know it is high and many have likely thought about doing it. Some studies have indicated higher rates of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and compassion fatigue, among individuals in caregiving roles, including animal welfare workers. These factors, combined with the emotional toll of working with animals in distressing situations, could potentially contribute to an increased risk of mental health challenges and, in some cases, suicide.

It is crucial to prioritize mental health support and resources for animal welfare workers, as well as promote awareness, education, and destigmatization of mental health issues within the industry. Providing access to counselling services, implementing mental health training, and fostering a supportive work environment can help mitigate the risk and promote well-being among animal welfare workers.

If someone close to you is suffering from compassion fatigue, there are several ways you can support and help them:

  • Be a Listening Ear
  • Encourage Self-Care
  • Provide Practical Support to help lighten their load
  • Validate Their Emotions
  • Encourage Boundaries
  • Offer Resources
  • Be Patient and Understanding

Remember, supporting someone with compassion fatigue requires empathy, patience, and active listening. By offering a compassionate and supportive presence, you can provide valuable assistance to your loved one during their healing process. There are many ways for the public to lighten the load for animal welfare warriors.

In the world of animal welfare, compassion fatigue poses a significant challenge for those dedicated to caring for animals in need. The emotional demands, witnessing suffering and neglect, and advocating tirelessly for animals can take a toll on the well-being of animal welfare workers. Recognizing the signs of compassion fatigue, implementing self-care strategies, seeking support, and maintaining healthy boundaries is vital in preventing and managing this condition. By addressing compassion fatigue in the context of animal welfare, we can ensure the well-being of those who tirelessly advocate for animals, allowing them to continue making a positive difference in the lives of our furry companions. Together, we can support and empower these compassionate individuals to create a brighter future for animals in need.


Source: The Bulletin