Home Alone Pet Guide

Home Alone Pet Guide

Tips to keep your pets SAFE and happy when they are home alone

Leaving our beloved pets home alone is a common part of our daily lives, but ensuring their safety, comfort, and well-being during our absence is an important responsibility as a pet parent. In this guide, we’ll explore a range of practical tips and strategies to make those moments when our furry companions are left on their own a positive experience for both pets and their owners. We understand that you can’t be with your pet all the time. A question every loving dog parent should ask is, “How long is too long to leave my dog alone?” 

Sadly, we can share many horrible stories of what happened to pets while owners were away or how many people will go away for days with no one checking in on them. This is highly irresponsible and worst is how many puppies are lost or found in the streets! Our concerns include theft, poison, and health-related emergencies. Then there is also the emotional well-being as some animals get very depressed and can even stop eating when left alone.

When you do go out (short or long) make sure:

  • Your yard/house is safe and secure
  • They have enough food
  • They have lots of fresh water
  • They have shelter from the elements
  • Someone can check in on them
  • Your pet sitter is listed with your Vet
  • Their medication and medical records are together
  • They have a microchip that is registered with up-to-date details or at least an ID collar with your number



Answer: it depends.

It’s not a yes or no question. How long your dog can stay home alone depends on your dog, their age, and their physical and emotional needs. Two rules of thumb: There’s no one-size-fits-all time frame, but 10 to 12 hours is considered too long to leave a dog alone; they also shouldn’t go without a potty break every 4 to 6 hours if left inside says Dr. Karen Becker.

  • Your dog’s bladder control, like humans, depends on factors such as age, hydration, and physical build. Young puppies and elderly dogs require more frequent outdoor breaks. Establish a routine that suits both of you, ensuring they go out before you leave and when you return.
  • To determine how long your dog can stay alone, consider their physical and emotional needs. Your dog’s ability to stay home alone also relies on their exercise and social interaction requirements. Some dogs may enjoy lounging during your absence, while others need regular walks and stimulating toys.
  • Watch out for behavioral changes, such as increased lethargy, depression, or destructive tendencies, which could indicate issues related to extended solitude. If you notice these changes, consult your veterinarian for a professional evaluation. Separation anxiety may manifest as destructive behaviours, and dogs, being social animals, may struggle with prolonged isolation.


Managing how your dog spends their time alone can help your pup feel more satisfied or fulfilled while you’re away. It also provides you with some peace of mind. Some options include:

  • Hire a dog walker, even a day or two per week.  This will include much-needed exercise, stimulation, and distraction.
  • Provide safe and mentally stimulating toys such as treat puzzles.
  • Leave the TV or radio (keep in mind electrical risks) on.
  • Get another pet (this only works if they get along).
  • Create a safe space for them in your home. Crate training your dog is recommended in general and for emergencies, but leaving him confined to his crate all day is something he absolutely doesn’t deserve!
  • Doggy cams can be great. Smart indoor cameras that you can access through your phone serve as invaluable tools for keeping an eye on your dog when they’re home alone. Numerous options are available in the market, enabling you to not only see and hear your dog but also receive notifications about activity or sound, allowing for quick check-ins. Some even release a treat.
  • Get a pet sitter to check-in.
  • Doggy daycare (one time a week can make a difference).
  • Pet-proof the area they are left in. This can be an area that can be closed off from the rest of the house and likely one that can be cleaned easily with a tile floor.  Add their bedding, water, food, toys (safe ones). Make sure there are no plugged-in electrical wires and cables they can hurt themselves on or chew.  Keep other food out of reach and make sure they can’t climb onto something to access something else. Remove any potentially hazardous chemicals or medication.  Also, make sure that they have much to keep them busy because you would not leave a child in a room with nothing to keep them busy. Initially, you have to supervise those enrichment toys to see if they can destroy them and if there are other dangers around them.
  • Getting your new dog used to being alone. Begin by leaving them alone in a room for short intervals, allowing them to become acclimated to the idea. Gradually extend the duration of their alone time as they adjust. Once your dog has become comfortable in this designated space, and their behaviour is reassuring, you can gradually expand their access to other areas of the house when you’re not present. A practical test for this transition is when you expect to be away for around 30 to 60 minutes, such as a quick trip to the supermarket. If they can maintain good behaviour in a larger area for a short period, you can progressively increase the duration they have the freedom to roam the house while you’re away, eventually accommodating a full workday.

by Theresa Duvenage


When leaving pets home alone, it’s crucial to take extra precautions for:

  • Dogs, especially those prone to separation anxiety.
  • Cats, especially those with anxiety or territorial issues.
  • Birds, particularly highly social species.
  • Exotic pets with specific habitat requirements.
  • Small rodents that need a secure environment.
  • Fish with a focus on water quality and feeding.
  • Young/baby animals
  • Senior pets with age-related health needs.
  • Pets with special needs or health conditions.

Understanding and addressing their unique needs, from companionship to environmental conditions, ensures their well-being when you’re not around.

Have a fire escape and emergency plan.  If a fire starts when you’re not home, having a pet alert window cling, which lets firefighters know the number and type of pets inside, will alert them to look for your pets.  Do you have an ER card about your pets in your wallet? Are your pets included in your last will? 


We have seen posts of people wanting a pet sitter “now” and for me that raises a lot of concern.  You need to take time to do your homework and choose carefully who you trust with your animals. You need a trusted and experienced pet sitter or service and they should be familiar with your pet’s routine and any unique needs they might have.

Blue Cross recommends considering the following when choosing a doggy daycare:

  • Do they have professional training in dog behaviour, first aid, and other important aspects of dog care?
  • Are they properly licensed and insured?
  • Where will your dog play, exercise, and rest?
  • How many other dogs will be there and by how many people will they be supervised?
  • Are they equipped to take care of any special needs your dog may have due to age, health, etc.?

Make sure to read reviews or ask friends and family about quality daycare places, and make sure to do a tour of the facility before leaving your dog. The nice part of a doggy daycare is that you don’t have to take your dog every day, which can sometimes get expensive. A day or two at the daycare will help get your dog exercise as well as socialize them with other dogs.

by Furry Paws


While you’re packing and prepping, don’t forget the essentials for your furry family members. It’s vital to ensure they’re as comfortable as possible, especially if they’re staying at home. Furry Paws Secunda is a local pet sitter service/daycare/groomer.  They give the following advice:

  • Leave written instructions that include feeding schedules to favourite toys, a comprehensive guide will make your pet’s life (and your sitter’s job) smoother.
  • Ensure your sitter has an extra set of keys. Bonus points if you leave another set with a trusted friend or neighbour.
  • Alarm codes, Wi-Fi passwords, and any special instructions should be clearly written and accessible.

Emergency Numbers and information to add to your instructions:

  • Vet’s contact info
  • Nearest emergency pet hospital
  • Your security company’s hotline
  • Poison control centre number
  • Local police and other emergency services
  • A trusted friend or neighbour
  • Include any medical conditions or allergies your pet may have

Include some pet comforts and personal touches.

  • Leave familiar toys and bedding to keep them at ease.
  • If your pet has a favourite calming music playlist or TV channel, let your sitter know!
  • Ensure all their favourite treats and foods are well stocked.
  • Consider leaving a short note or voice recording for your pet. Hearing a familiar voice can be comforting.
  • Schedule a call or video chat to check in if you’re away for an extended period.

Remember that when you bring home a new dog, you’re committing to a long-term relationship. Be sure you have time to dedicate to your new family member. Working full-time or having a busy life and owning a pet is doable, you may just have to get creative to ensure sure their needs are being met. Before bringing a new pet into your home, it’s really important to find an animal that fits your lifestyle. Consider taking a few days off to help them adjust to this new world you force them to live in. #adoptdontshop

In conclusion, when it comes to leaving pets home alone, our furry, feathered, or scaled friends rely on us to create a safe and comforting environment. By following the tips and strategies outlined in this guide, we can uphold our responsibility as responsible pet owners. Remember, pets thrive on routine and familiar surroundings. Ensuring their well-being in your absence not only eases your mind but also guarantees their contentment and security. From setting up their space, and providing mental and physical stimulation, to considering technological aids, your efforts will not only benefit your pets but also strengthen the bond between you and your beloved companions.

So, the next time you have to leave your pets home alone, do so with the confidence that you’ve taken the necessary steps to ensure their happiness and welfare.


Source: The Bulletin

Animals are NOT gifts


Image by The Paw Company

Animals are NOT gifts
Pets should not be given as gifts or be a surprise!

The holiday season often tempts well-meaning individuals to gift animals—puppies for Christmas, bunnies for Easter, or kittens for birthdays. However, this seemingly heartwarming gesture can have serious consequences for both the animals and their unsuspecting recipients. In this article we will explore the reasons behind this cautionary stance and delve into the essential considerations for responsible pet ownership.


Whether acquired for personal satisfaction or intended as a surprise for a loved one, purchasing or taking animals on a whim is a risky endeavor. Here’s why:

  • Animals Are Sentient Beings, Not Commodities: Animals should never be treated as mere commodities or impulse buys. They are sentient beings with emotions and needs, and gifting them sends the wrong message, perpetuating the idea that they are disposable toys.
  • Pets Are Long-Term Commitments: Animals typically live 10-20 years or more for some species, requiring a substantial commitment of time, effort, and resources. Impulse purchases can lead to neglect or abandonment when the reality of this commitment sets in.
  • Shelter Overcrowding: Studies indicate that more than 10% of animals given as gifts end up in shelters shortly thereafter. In an already overwhelmed animal welfare system, this percentage adds strain, making it crucial to avoid unnecessary contributions to shelter overcrowding.
  • Children’s Interest and Responsibility: Children’s fleeting attention spans often align better with stuffed toys than living beings. The responsibilities of caring for a pet, such as daily exercise and attention, can be overlooked or underestimated.


Before deciding to gift an animal, it’s imperative to consider various factors to ensure the well-being of both the recipient and the pet:

  • Interest: Has the person expressed genuine interest in owning a pet?
  • Cost & Resources: Is the recipient financially stable and willing to commit to the financial responsibilities of pet ownership, including food, supplies, and veterinary care?
  • Time & Energy: Does the recipient have the time and energy to dedicate to daily care, interaction, and play? Consider their activity level and how often they are at home.
  • Space: Evaluate the living environment to ensure it is suitable for the specific needs of the animal. Check for any restrictions on pets.
  • The Future: Consider future plans, such as potential relocations, family expansions, or changes in financial situations.
  • Compatibility: Assess the recipient’s lifestyle and choose a pet that aligns with their needs and capabilities, especially energy-levels.
  • Age and Health: Ensure that the chosen pet is appropriate for the recipient’s age and that there are no health conditions that may conflict with pet care.
  • Other Pets: Consider whether the new animal will get along with existing pets in the household.

Image by Dr. Karen Becker


Politely declining or addressing an unwanted pet gift is crucial to avoid unintended consequences for the animal. Here’s how:

  • Express Gratitude: Thank the giver sincerely for their thoughtful gesture.
  • Politely Decline: Clearly communicate that you are not ready for the responsibility of pet ownership at this time.
  • Responsible Surrender: As a last resort, if the giver insists, you can take the pet and responsibly surrender it to a shelter that can find a suitable home.


If you are still considering giving a pet as a gift, adhere to these guidelines:

  • Direct Family Only: Limit pet gifts to direct family members who have expressed genuine interest in owning a pet.
  • Take Responsibility: Be willing to be the backup home for the pet if the recipient is unable to care for it.
  • Avoid Surprises: Never surprise someone with a pet; instead, ensure the new owner is prepared for the responsibility and all the animal’s needs.
  • Avoid Impulse: Resist the urge for impulse pet purchases. Consider adopting from a local shelter, and promoting responsible adoption processes.

The decision to gift an animal should not be taken lightly. The life of an innocent being is at stake, and your responsibility as a potential guardian is paramount. Remember, adopting from reputable organizations reduces the strain on shelters and contributes to responsible pet ownership.


In conclusion, before presenting a pet as a gift, carefully weigh the implications and responsibilities involved. If you are not prepared to be a responsible pet owner or if the recipient is not ready for the commitment, it’s best to reconsider and not gift the animal. The joy of pet ownership should come from a well-thought-out decision, ensuring a happy and healthy life for both the pet and its owner.


Source: The bulletin

Pet loss & Grief


Pet loss & Grief

Many are excited about the festive around Christmas Holidays, but for some, after a pet loss, it is a time they dread.

With their shorter lifespans, pet loss is inevitable, and saying goodbye is something every pet lover faces eventually. Saying goodbye is the hardest part of our relationships with our pets. As someone mentioned in a pet grief group, you joined a club you never wanted to be part of. Regardless of the type of pet, furry, finned, or scaled, no matter the species, we love them with all of our hearts and feel their loss as strongly as we’d feel the loss of a human family member or friend.

Last year I did an article on pet loss and the grief that accompanies it, shortly after a loss. When I looked back on many of the published posts in this series, the grief article had some of the highest views, which means that so many experience this, and since society stigmatization of loss, many suffer alone.

In my first article, I talked about grief, the stages of grief, the comorbidities of grief, a visualization exercise that helped me, pet loss resources, getting a new pet, and preparing for the Rainbow Bridge decision.  This week I want to share some of what I learned about grief in the last year and next week we will look at some coping strategies and remembering your pets.


Bark & Whiskers


Grief is a universal emotion and in an excerpt from Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home, Toko-pa Turner sums it up well:

“Grief is the response to a broken bond of belonging. Whether through the loss of a loved one, a way of life, or a cherished community, grief is the reaction to being torn from what you love. But while grief may look like an expression of pain that serves no purpose, it is actually the soul’s acknowledgment of what we value. Yet in our culture, we are deeply unskilled with grief. We hold it at a distance as best we can, both in ourselves and in each other, treating it as, Joanna Macy says, like “an enemy of cheerfulness.” There is unspoken shame associated with grief. It is sanctioned in very few places, in small doses, for exceptional occasions. Grief is the expression of healing in motion. Because what remains hidden for too long doesn’t change.  It is calcified in place, often sealed by shame, left untouched and forgotten by time. But when it can finally come into the open to be seen, it is exposed to new conditions and it begins to move. It rises on a salty geyser of tears, sometimes sung to the surface by a terrific moan, streaming down our cheeks until it moistens the soil where we stand, preparing us for new growth.”

Carol Bryant writes, “It’s an odd thing, grief. We fear it, dismiss it, try and avoid it, occasionally have brushes with it, and most often times, without warning, it invites itself into our lives. No welcome mat but it comes nonetheless.”

She goes on using the metaphor of grief as a suitcase: “I view my grief as a suitcase. Some days it’s a cosmetics bag full and others it’s Samsonite gorilla-sized. Sometimes I feel like I’m on a carousel in the airport waiting for the form my grief will take. Do I wait days or weeks before I tear up and ache so very much or is today a carry-on kind of day where I just take it with me? In any event, I know my luggage always arrives and never gets lost. If you are grieving the death of a beloved pet, please understand you are forever changed. I’ve learned to live with my grief and carry it with me as an invisible suitcase.”

I agree that society is unskilled in dealing with grief, more so when the loss involves an animal.  We certainly don’t talk or think about it enough and maybe that is because it scares us.

Nancy Gordon, a loss and transformational grief specialist, shares this: “Unhealed grief puts a lock on your heart. It’s so important for people to realize that the key to unlocking your heart is to face the guilt and grief. Now, facing it is often very, very hard for people. Grief is meant to be shared. It’s meant to be expressed in positive, healing ways rather than stuffing it.”


Bark & Whiskers


There may be many reasons but some of the major reasons are certainly because animals’ love is so unconditional, non-judgemental, and accepting. They have seen you at your best and your worst. Sometimes these pets have helped us through major life-changing events like losing someone, illness, a new job or new school, divorce, etc. Grief is a sign you were loved and loved deeply. The grief is real because the emotions you experienced with your pet were real. The loss is valid because you didn’t lose a thing you lost someone close and special to you.

During my grief journey, I watched a TEDx talk by an emergency vet Dr. Sarah Hoggan who shared about the comorbidities of grief and how these comorbidities can complicate grief. Having to make the PTS decision or losing an animal due to a preventable accident are just two of them. My first article covered more on this.

In the first article, I touched on the stages of grief which starts with anticipatory grief. This is a grief you experience before the actual loss. Then there is denial, guilt/anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Because grief is such an individual process, not everyone may experience all the stages and it might also not be in this particular order, however, our first response to the loss is usually denial, and the last acceptance.


David Kessler wrote a book in which he refers to the sixth stage of grief:  Finding meaning again. In his book, Kessler gives readers a roadmap to remembering those who have died with more love than pain; he shows us how to move forward in a way that honors our loved ones. Adoption can be part of this. Once you reach the stage of acceptance and you are back in a positive place, the best tribute you can pay to a pet that has passed is to give another one a second chance by adopting from a reputable rescue organization.

Please don’t get a new pet when you are still going through the grieving stages because you will bring the new pet into a weak and sad energy, which is not fair to them and never to “replace” the other one.

In an article by Carol Bryant titled: Anatomy of a Grieving Dog Mom she writes: “I never thought I would ever feel complete again. The logical part of me knows we all will die someday. The unprepared part of me wasn’t ready, couldn’t have prepared, and went into a downward spiral of pain as a grieving dog mom. There’s a hole in my heart where it used to be whole.”

That is exactly how I feel and probably, you reading this too. Last week we adopted a new boy from our local SPCA.  It was not a quick decision and never should be, but the time was right for me now.  Although this new addition will not ever replace the others, my heart feels whole again. Someone said that grief is love that is looking for a home…………this speaks deeply to me.


Dr. Karen Becker


Rainbow Bridge Raina and others share the following to keep in mind when you are grieving.

  • You are not grieving too long, but your journey will likely take longer than you think.
  • There is no right or wrong way to grieve as long as you don’t hurt yourself.
  • Your journey will look different because grief is personal.
  • Be kind to yourself because grief is messy.
  • Others won’t understand, you don’t need their permission to grieve.
  • People will say wrong things to help you feel better.
  • It may feel that your world stopped in this grief. We will all experience a loss that will get us stuck, but you won’t be stuck forever.
  • Grief can be a liar and irrational.
  • We live in a society where the world doesn’t even stop for death. If your thoughts wander or you forget about your pet for a moment, that is ok.
  • You are not alone.
  • It does get better but it takes time as grief changes and morphs. It becomes lighter and you will survive and feel joy again.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out for support. There are professional counsellors for those who have lost pets. 


In the first article, I talked about preparing for this dreadful decision and there are some practical resources to help you make this decision. What I want to highlight here is that you should never wait too long to make that decision, no matter how hard it is.  It is the last gift you can give your beloved animal.  Don’t prolong your pet’s suffering because of your or your child’s emotions.  That is not fair to the animal who is suffering and please remain by their side in the moment. I can assure you the guilt of waiting too long or letting them die at home will be harder than when you do it “too” early. I see it clearly in the grief groups but also with our experiences.  I know too many people who waited too long, usually because they didn’t want the responsiblity of this big decision.

Remember to never let the animal suffer because you do not have the funds to euthanize them.  Contact your local SPCA or animal rescue as there are ways they can help with this or talk to your veterinarian. Please be kind to those in animal welfare because we cry for other people’s pets too and many in the trenches experience this loss frequently.

My heart goes out to every person who has to make a euthanasia (PTS) decision or who has lost their beloved fur family members. The reality is as Nick Cave describes it: “……if we love, we grieve, that’s the deal, that’s the pact. Grief is a terrible reminder about the depth of our love, and like love, grief is non-negotiable.” To my fellow travellers on the road of grief, you, the survivor of this death, now embark on a journey of grief and healing. Here is a beautiful video of the reunion at the Rainbow Bridge.


Source: The Bulletin

Helping animal welfare – Extending a helping hand!

Animal Welfare


Helping animal welfare – Extending a helping hand!

How YOU can lighten the load for animal welfare organizations

Animal welfare is a challenging and demanding endeavor that goes beyond the confines of a regular workday. Rescuers tirelessly dedicate themselves to saving lives, often without financial compensation, as they navigate the physical and emotional toll of their responsibilities. The holiday season, in particular, exacerbates the challenges faced by these unsung heroes. Here’s how you can get involved and make a meaningful impact in animal welfare.


  • Connect with Local Shelters: Reach out to a reputable shelter or organization in your area to express your interest in volunteering. Call or visit the shelter, ask to speak to the volunteer coordinator, and introduce yourself.
  • Express Willingness to Help: Inquire about volunteer opportunities or other ways you can contribute to alleviating the shelter’s workload.
  • Explore Various Roles: Learn about the shelter’s operations and explore roles such as feeding, washing, walking, administrative tasks, or fostering.
  • Utilize Professional Skills: Offer any professional skills you possess, such as accounting, IT, or fundraising, bookkeeping, plumbing, electrical work, design work etc., to support the organization.

If you can’t adopt, FOSTER. If you can’t foster, SPONSOR. If you can’t sponsor, VOLUNTEER. If you can’t volunteer, DONATE. If you can’t donate, EDUCATENETWORKSHARE. Everyone can do something, large or small, to help save a life!

Animal Welfare

Image by


  • Stay Informed: Read and stay informed about resources shared by animal welfare organizations, even if they don’t directly apply to you at the moment.
  • Educate Others: Share your newfound knowledge with at least one person to contribute to broader awareness.
  • Practice Responsible Pet Ownership: Spay and neuter your pets, adopt from reputable organizations, and keep your animals safe in your yard.
  • Engage on Social Media: Support organizations by liking, sharing, and commenting on their posts, especially adoption-related content. Your engagement, especially commenting and sharing can increase the visibility of their posts.
  • Participate in Fundraising: If financial contributions aren’t feasible, support fundraising events and offer assistance in other ways. You can also organize a fundraiser for a reputable organization. Remember to get permission to use their logo if you need to and keep within the laws like the Lotto regulations when you do lucky draws.
  • Show Appreciation: Acknowledge the efforts of staff, rescuers, or volunteers by buying a coffee or lunch, leaving a note of encouragement, or offering another token of appreciation.
  • Support Reputable Organizations: Channel your support to organizations with proper adoption policies, financial transparency, and ethical practices. Not just those who claim to do it.  There are those who, although registered, breed animals and sell animals, which is hypocritical and fuelling the massive overpopulation crisis.
Animal Welfare

Image by The Paw Company


  • Animals everywhere need help and your contribution matters. Avoid the “someone do something” mentality and take meaningful steps to assist.
  • If you come across an animal in distress, don’t just demand help; offer assistance, donate food or funds, or take the animal to a local organization or vet.
  • Understand that organizations may be overwhelmed at times. Offer your support, as you are someone who can make a difference.
  • Remember, your individual actions can have a significant impact, and by actively participating in animal welfare efforts, you contribute to the well-being of our furry friends and the dedicated individuals who strive to protect them.

There is a way for every person to help! It really takes a village and animal welfare organizations are constantly overwhelmed, especially during this time of year. Your time, skills, or funds can make a difference in the lives of animals.


Source: The Bulletin

New years resolutions for pets – part 1


Image by The Paw Company

New years resolutions for pets – part 1

Your pets can be healthier and happier in 2024 with some or all of these pawsome pet new year’s resolutions!

The presents are opened, the Christmas leftovers are done…….and now it’s that time of year again when we think about what we shouda-coulda-woulda done differently last year and vow to do better this year. I wish you and your pets a Pawsome 2024! May life treat you the way you treat your pets!

A new year brings new goals, renewed hope and 365 days of opportunity for you and your pet to bond, develop healthier habits and discover new ways to live a full life. Your pet can live a better tomorrow with your help.

An important first step is to avoid becoming overwhelmed thinking you need to make big changes overnight. Baby steps in the right direction are the way to go. The important thing is to make a plan and move steadily forward.



This is probably our most important one. There are so many benefits to this plus you will help stop this massive overpopulation crisis we face in animal welfare. If your pet is already sterilized, thank you! Please consider sponsoring one other sterilization for someone in need this year.


As with us humans, it’s all too easy for a pet’s weight to gradually creep up over time. Measuring your pet’s food accurately is the first step to take to prevent overfeeding.

The goal in offering your pet fresh food, which they can truly thrive on, is to mimic the ancestral diet of dogs and cats as closely as possible without breaking the bank. Feed your pet as much unprocessed, fresh food as you can afford.

Ask your holistic veterinarian for food recommendations appropriate for your pet’s species, age, breed and lifestyle. Feed the recommended amount, and limit treats to small goodies in limited portions. Add in some healthy items, such as bits of carrots, apples and blueberries.

If you give them bones, follow these guidelines! See some advice we shared from Dr. Karen Becker (Veterinarian and co-author of The Forever Dog) on fresh food ideas.


Learn about the optimal care for your pet, and safety, meeting all their specie/breed-specific needs. Observe your pet’s body language and learn what they are trying to tell you.

Check out The Paw Company’s index post on various animal topics and follow our ANIMALS 101 series here in The Bulletin every Wednesday.


Dogs, cats and or other social animals can benefit from interaction with animals of the same species. Having a pet that is well-trained, obedient, happy, relaxed and responsive means that not only will your pet be easier to manage and safer in potentially dangerous situations, but you will also get more pleasure from your companionship as a result. Well-socialized have much less chance of winding up at an animal shelter.

Learn a new trick or address at least one of those behavioural concerns or “bad” habits of your pet. Get some professional help if you need to. Remember there is a difference between a trainer and a behaviourist. In the Secunda area contact our local trainer Jennifer.


Accidents happen and the odds are that when your pets eat something they shouldn’t or get hurt, you will be home alone and it will be after veterinary hours. That’s why it’s so important for a pet parent to know how to handle an emergency and what the plan is in case of a fire, a flood, car accident, or possible evacuations. Save your veterinarian and other local vet’s emergency number on your phone. 


Image by Dr. Karen Becker


You have a relationship bank account with your pet. Some negative actions like frustration and intimidation equal withdrawals while positive actions like play and attention are investments or deposits. Keep a positive bank balance.

Spend more time with your pets than you did last year! This can be some one-on-one time with your dog or cat, even if just at home watching some TV and cuddling or playing or having an adventure in the outside world. Sometimes resolve to just sit with your pet and watch the world go by and always be in the moment, not on your phone when you spend quality time together.


  • A suitable environment.
  • Appropriate diet and fresh, clean, cool, dinking water daily.
  • Companionship.
  • A chance to exhibit normal behaviour.
  • Good health and medical attention when needed.
  • Enrichment is also crucial for your pet’s well-being. This includes food, sensory, cognitive, physical habitat and social enrichment.


It is good for both you and your pet. Get creative as exercise does not need to be boring. Play games or go for one of the 8 different walks.

Your pets didn’t have a choice when they came to stay with you and since you chose to have them, it is your responsibility to meet their every need! Next week we will continue with part 2 of this 3-part series on the pet-pawsitive New Year’s resolutions.

Do you have a New Year’s resolution for your pet?


Source: The Bulletin

Pet New Years resolutions – part 2


Image by The Paw Company

Pet New Years resolutions – part 2

Your pets can be healthier and happier in 2024 with some or all of these pawsome pet new year’s resolutions!

A new year brings new goals and more than 300 days of opportunity for you and your pet to bond, develop healthier habits and discover new ways to live a full life. Your pet can live a better tomorrow with your help. An important first step is to avoid becoming overwhelmed thinking you need to make big changes overnight. Baby steps in the right direction are the way to go. The important thing is to make a plan and move steadily forward.

Re-publication: Originally published 11 January 2023


You see so much more of the world compared to the animals in your care. To them, you, your family and your home are their world. Let them see more! Do you have an adventurous dog breed? Or a curious cat? Try a new activity with them. Find something you both love doing. Many restaurants are now offering dog-friendly seating areas and during the off-season, more beaches are open to dogs.


Besides being fun, playing has a vital role in their development. It promotes confidence. If they are confident, they tend to be less anxious or fearful. You should also play breed-specific games including scent & track, eye & stalk, chase, grab-bite, kill-bite, possess, dissect, and consume. Resolve to get at least one new toy and play with your pet, even just 5 minutes a day. For cats, you can also buy a new scratching post or build a new cat tress. Most dogs love car rides.


  • Regular appointments are so important for ensuring that your animals enjoy many happy and healthy years. It can help detect any potential problems early. So, consider adding more wellness appointments to your New Year’s resolution list, but do at least one a year.
  • Make sure your necessary vaccinations are up-to-date.
  • Around the age of 8, their wellness and nutritional needs can require fine-tuning every 4 to 6 months.
  • In older animals, it’s very important to review weight, muscle tone, joint range of motion, diet, supplement protocol, and exercise habits at least semi-annually.
  • Through a healthy diet, exercise, enrichment and keeping your home safe and toxin-free, their health can improve drastically.


‘Integrated’ health care for domestic animals can combine the best of conventional Veterinary medicine, alongside diet and nutrition, supplements, herbal and homeopathic formulas, physiotherapy and acupressure and acupuncture. All of which can improve our pet’s quality of life.

Schedule an appointment with a natural health care practitioner to see how a more natural approach to your pet’s health care could benefit them this year…… and for every year in the future.


What is the immediate and long-term plan for your pets if you die today? Are they included in your will? Will they be taken care of? It is important to list specific instructions in your will! Is there someone in your town who will be responsible to take care of your pets in case of an emergency? You can also LEAVE A LEGACY, by donating part of your estate to an animal shelter.


Image: pexels


If your pet doesn’t have a microchip, get one now! There are affordable options and it drastically improves the chances of reuniting your pet with you if they get lost. You have to register your details on a database (preferably more than one) so it can be linked to the microchip number. Otherwise, the microchip means nothing. Make sure your details are up-to-date if you moved or changed numbers. Have a recent photo ready in case they get lost.


Take a fresh look at their toy collection and stop holding on to old, tatty, and often germ-infested pet toys. Now’s the perfect time to do a good clean and clear and to give your pet something fun and new to play with. Choose safe toys made of natural materials and clean them regularly.

Other things to toss as shared by Bark & Whiskers:

  • Toss this: Retractable leash | Replace with this: 6-foot flat leash
  • Toss this: Plastic food and water bowl | Replace with this: Stainless steel, porcelain or glass food and water bowls
  • Toss this: Old, stinky and ill-fitting collar | Replace with this: New collar
  • Toss this: Dull nail trimmers | Replace with this: Freshly sharpened or new nail trimmers, or a battery-operated rotary tool (e.g., a Dremel)
  • Toss this: Broken or chewed-up toys | Replace with this: Repaired or new nontoxic toys


Grooming is important to keep the coat shiny and healthy. Like playtime, grooming is something that most pets look forward to and it’s a bonding activity. Grooming your pet is also a great way to notice if something is off. Make sure their coat/skin is in good condition, nails are trimmed, eyes and ears are clean as well as maintaining good dental hygiene.

Your pets didn’t have a choice when they came to stay with you and since you chose to have them, it is your responsibility to meet their every need! Next week we will continue with the final part of this three-part series on the pet new year’s resolutions. Do better for your pets in 2024!

Do you have a New Year’s resolution for your pet?


Source: The Bulletin

Pet New Years Resolutions – part 3


Image: Pixabay

Pet New Years Resolutions – part 3

Your pets can be healthier and happier in 2024 with some or all of these pawsome pet new year’s resolutions!

A new year brings new goals and more than 300 days of opportunity for you and your pet to bond, develop healthier habits and discover new ways to live a full life. Your pet can live a better tomorrow with your help. An important first step is to avoid becoming overwhelmed thinking you need to make big changes overnight. Baby steps in the right direction are the way to go. The important thing is to make a plan and move steadily forward.

Re-publication: Originally published 18 January 2023


  • Keep toxic substances like medications, cleaning or gardening products, alcohol and toxic plants out of reach.
  • Just because a pet shop or vet sells something, doesn’t make it safe. Buy safe bedding and toys made of natural material without strong smells.
  • Clean their food and water bowls daily. We prefer stainless steel bowls to plastic.
  • Be careful about cleaning products, non-stick pans, air fresheners, or perfumes and candles you use that can affect your pets.
  • Resolve to take the time to safely secure your dog in the car on all car trips, regardless of the length of the journey. Never leave them alone in a car!
  • Start firework preparation before the festivities catch you unprepared.
  • Secure your yard so it is safe and so that pets can’t escape or get poisoned from the street.
  • Keep your cats safe in your yard.
  • Make sure there is proper shelter from all the elements.
  • Have a safe space in your home that belongs to them.


Since our pets spend the most time at home or in the garden, we should do our best to build them safe, entertaining places to rest and play. Make sure all potentially harmful plants or substances are out of reach. Create some nice hiding places and vertical territory for your pets to enjoy and explore. Learn more about zoopharmacognosy, which allows your pet to self-select remedies that best soothe them, especially during periods of anxiety.


Be better prepared for the unexpected. This is a healthy habit and can save you a lot of worries later. Pet owners can now choose from a variety of pet insurance plans that meet their needs and fit every budget.


What do you think your senior pet wants to do before crossing the Rainbow Bridge? You can make the last phase of your pet’s life memorable by compiling and completing a list of activities that will have their tail wagging and your heart soaring. Prepare in advance to navigate the Rainbow Bridge journey and making the tough but kind decision to euthanize your pet.


Image by The Paw Company


  • adopt or foster a pet
  • donate to a rescue or shelter
  • donate pet products like beds, towels, bowls, leashes, collars or food
  • volunteer at a shelter
  • say thank you to rescuers (and a vet)
  • take a shelter dog for a walk
  • sign a few petitions to help us save more animals
  • share lost and found animal posts to improve their chances of being reunited with their owners
  • join a specific cause like “stop fireworks”, “say no to the circus” or sterilizations campaigns


Animals can pick up on our energies. We see how sensitive animals are to our emotional state. They get excited when we are or try to comfort you if you are down by climbing on your lap. If you’re continuously agitated or angry when you come home, this could negatively affect your pet’s emotional state. Maybe a good New Year’s resolution idea this year is to learn how to have balanced energy before coming home to see your furry family. Even though a walk might do you good, maybe not attempt it on a day that you are angry or frustrated or not in the mood because you might ruin the experience for your pet.

Keep in mind that barking, humping and digging for example are natural behaviours, but don’t allow your pet to do things if it frustrates you as this will not be good for either of you. There are alternative and healthy ways to deal with such natural behaviours.


Identify what type of pet sitter service you need. Start your search as soon as possible, ask for referrals and interview potential sitters. For us, a big factor (apart from being trustworthy) is someone who has training in pet first aid (behaviour and grooming are a bonus) and who has professional documentation (forms and terms & conditions). List your pet sitter at your vet.


If you are planning to get a new pet, please do your homework in advance about the specie and their needs. It is important that the animal and breed you choose fit with your family’s energy levels and lifestyle. Please do not support breeders who fuel this massive overpopulation crisis, so opt to adopt from reputable organizations that include home checks, a contract and sterilization.


Image by The Paw Company


Only visit True Sanctuaries and say no to those that offer animal rides, interaction, walk with, pet, or taking of photos with the animals.

  • Use your birthday to raise donations for a reputable animal shelter by asking friends and families to donate or let your wedding registry be donations to an animal shelter.
  • Organize a community clean-up because plastic and other trash are harmful to the environment and animals.
  • Support the life in your backyard like the small ecosystems, and animals and insects that live around your home.
  • Say no to pesticides and poisons because poisoning rats and other animals influences the natural food chain.

Choose to wear it kind by buying and wearing clothing ethically. Avoid leather, fur and wool and try sustainable, animal-friendly alternatives because their lives matter! Don’t buy products that are tested on animals. You can find the approved beauty brands on the Humane Guide.


This is one we really want you to help us with! Try and share an educational post about animals regularly to help others learn more about animal care and welfare. Advocate for the voiceless and the unheard, especially about topics like breeding, selling, petting farms, the circus and fireworks.


Almost done. You have your pet and you have decided to make some pet-positive changes in the new year. You even have some great ideas now for pawsome resolutions. To execute these resolutions though, there needs to be detailed goals and an easy plan to follow every day. It is important to create a plan that you can stick to. Consider asking a friend to check in with and make sure you are keeping to those resolutions. Maybe start a calendar and write down the days and the goals. The most important part…..get excited!

Do you have a New Year’s resolution for your pet? Are you sticking to them?


Source: The Bulletin

Does your dog seem aggressive?



Does your dog seem aggressive?

Animals being aggressive is a complex behaviour and should be identified correctly and addressed immediately by qualified individuals!

Aggressive behaviour is probably the most common behavioural problem in dogs seen by behaviour professionals and the most dangerous one seen in companion dogs. Behaviour is one of the most common reasons why people surrender animals to shelters, especially dogs, and aggression is one of them although many behaviours that people perceive as aggressive are actually normal forms of communication.

As the Whole Dog Journal shares: “The broad spectrum of “aggressive behaviours” is technically called “agonistic behaviours” and is defined in ethology as, “pertaining to the range of activities associated with aggressive encounters between members of the same species or social group, including threat, attack, appeasement, or retreat.” So, while a growl-lunge-bite sequence would be easily recognized by most people as aggression, more subtle agonistic behaviours such as a freeze, a hard stare, or even a lack of eye contact, may go unnoticed (and unaddressed)”. The lack of understanding of basic and normal animal behaviour remains part of the problem!

Another part of the problem is also that there has been a cultural shift about dog aggression. I agree with Patt Miller that our culture has become over-sensitized to dog bites.  In the past, if a child was bitten by a neighbour’s dog, the mother would usually question the child about what they did to provoke the animal. Nowadays, however, the first response is to contact a lawyer or a behaviour specialist (less likely), or even take the dog to a shelter. We have become a society that is increasingly fearful of aggression.

This is a republication from 15 March 2023.


Images by R+Dogs

Some factors that may contribute to dog aggression
Aggression in animals can be caused by a variety of factors, such as fear, excess energy, self-defence, or pain and physical discomfort for example.

  1. Lack of Socialization: Dogs that are not properly socialized may become aggressive when they encounter unfamiliar people or animals. Pups learn valuable information about behaviour from their mom/dad.  If they are removed before 10-12 weeks, then this could affect their future behaviour negatively too.  
  2. Fear: Dogs may become aggressive when they feel threatened or scared which is a normal response for us as humans too. “Aggressive” behaviour when defending themselves or a mom protecting her puppies are also examples.
  3. Pain: Dogs in pain may become aggressive as a way to protect themselves.
  4. Dominance: Dogs may become aggressive in an attempt to establish dominance over other animals or people. Whether people believe it or not, animals do establish hierarchy and what appears to be aggressive behaviour might be part of that, although possibly normal. Sometimes just the company of other dogs may be stressful to your dog which may lead to “aggressive” behaviour.
  5. Breed genetics: Some breeds of dogs might be predisposed to aggression and bad breeding practices have certainly contributed to this. All dogs can bite, but some may do more damage than others. Aggression can’t be blamed on the breed.  The breed of a dog can tell you what they can do, but how they are raised and cared for, determines what they will do.  I believe dog bites are 100% preventable and understanding body language is key to prevention.
  6. Hormones: An earlier study showed that dogs with high levels of the hormone vasopressin may be more aggressive than dogs with lower levels; higher levels of oxytocin (the “love hormone”) and higher oxytocin-to-vasopressin levels are seen in the breeds least likely to behave aggressively. Hormone levels when a bitch is in heat may contribute to “aggressive” behaviour for both her and males. One of the many reasons we support spay & neuter.
  7. Your response: The owner’s prior experience with dogs can contribute to or reinforce certain behaviours and when you panic it may worsen the situation. Animals need calm and confident owners. Remember that aggression can be learned; your pup can learn that if he acts aggressively, the things that scare him will go away. This means that his aggressive behaviour is rewarded, and will become more frequent.

More on behaviour:


Reactivity is a reaction to something that makes a dog uncomfortable.  It always starts subtly and as signals are missed, ignored, or punished.  We then start to see behaviours that become a problem for us, like growling, snarling, lunging and biting.

Resource guarding (including food, toys, humans etc.)

All animals engage in defending their resources and resources come in a variety of forms. Some may make sense, others may not. It may also seem surprising to you that your dog may resource guard items because they have an abundance of things. Food, toys, you…..but resource guarding isn’t about things. It’s about feelings as R+Dogs explains it, including:

  • The fear of losing out on something.
  • The fear associated with not having any control.
  • The fear that comes with intimidation (implied or unknowingly present).
  • The fear of the unknown.
  • The fear of no escape.
  • The fear of being unsafe.

Resource guarding can also be linked to pain so please have your dog thoroughly checked for pain by your vet.

Trigger stacking – when the behaviour happens “out of the blue”

We’ve all experienced days when it feels like everything is going wrong and we’re left feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and ready to lash out at the next person who speaks to us. This person may think we have a serious attitude problem or need anger management when in reality, we’re just having a really bad day and don’t usually act this way. The same is true for dogs. Behaviours that appear out of the blue or are out of character can often be attributed to the stacking of different triggers.

A trigger can be anything that causes a dog to become overwhelmed and have a negative reaction. These can be small, seemingly insignificant things that we may not even notice, but they can add up and eventually lead to a reaction that is out of proportion to the stimulus. When the dog’s stress levels reach a certain point, the next event, no matter how small, can cause an unexpected reaction.

Examples include: Someone at the gate, the garbarge truck passing, strange man fixing the pool, someone on a bike passing, other dogs barking, a kid that hugs the dog etc. If this happens each on a consecutive days you likely avoid the stacking, but if it all occured in one day, they might “snap” with something simple due to stacking of triggers.


Image by Good Guardianship

Why punishment is not the answer!
Punishment is not the solution because it only suppresses the symptoms. Physical, punishment-based training is outdated. Such methods may include the use of choke chains, shock collars, or alpha rolls (physically rolling a dog onto the ground and holding him there) and hitting them.  While these methods peaked in popularity in the 1960s, the science of dog training has advanced significantly in the last 50 years and today’s reputable trainers/behaviourists overwhelmingly shun them in favour of positive reinforcement or reward-based conditioning. Remember punishment, whether physical or mental, can harm your pet.

Never punish a growl, which usually precedes the bite or snap action. This way they will learn from you that it is safer to skip the growl because you will punish it and then they bite “out of the blue”.  A growl is a way of communicating that they are not happy and that they need your help! No bite is “out of the blue!”

What you can do?
You need an aggression-modifying action plan. A blanket approach can’t be followed for aggression and an evaluation by a qualified behaviourist, not just a dog trainer is important as well as addressing the individual needs of that animal if it is correctly identified as aggressive behaviour.

  • My first stop will always be to go for a vet check to rule out any underlying medical issue or pain.
  • Educate yourself about dog body language so you can be aware of your dog’s more subtle agonistic behaviours. Listen to what your pet is saying through their vocalizations or body language. TEMP – tails ears/eyes, mouth and posture. Also learn basic first-aid for pets in case of an emergency.
  • Find out what is the cause of aggression or stressors and stress levels. Look for subtle signs too. Avoid putting them in situations where they may be compelled to act aggressively and also to help them cope. Take steps to eliminate it from their life if possible. If it is something that can’t be removed, try to manage it by removing the dog from the environment when the stressor is present or re-directing your pet’s attention. If it is too difficult to be removed or managed, try to change their opinion of the stressor (gradually) through counter-conditioning or behaviour modification in the presence of the stressor. Redirect their attention or give them a job. Always stay calm!
  • Contact a behaviourist and make the time to follow the plan. Search for a behaviourist near you and ask for references. Remember that you need to look out for your pets, so if you feel uncomfortable with any trainer/behaviourist, then walk away and find someone else.  We only support fear-free reward-based training methods.  You can follow R+Dogs more on aggression and reactivity.

Image by Dr. Karen Becker

  • Become a calm-confident guardian by setting rules and boundaries and being consistent.
  • Meet all their needs physically and emotionally through species-appropriate enrichment.
  • Never force affection and let them come to you.

This only includes the basics and each situation must be assessed by a qualified behaviourist and an individual plan needs to be formulated to help the particular animal cope.

Many people wait too long before getting help for their dogs. Invest in learning about body language so you can help your pet to better navigate this human world they were forced into. They are your responsibility and just as most won’t dump their angry child on an already overwhelmed welfare system, you shouldn’t give up on the animals in your care because you are not meeting their needs or understanding their behaviour.


Disclaimer:  I am not a behaviourist although I research these topics. 

Source: The bulletin

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Engage don’t cage


Engage don’t cage

The cruelty of grounding those who were meant to fly.

In a world where exotic and wild birds are often kept as pets, the harsh reality of their captivity remains a pressing concern. Birds, inherently designed for flight and freedom, find themselves confined to cages that restrict not only their fundamental physical movement but also compromise their overall well-being. The allure of owning a feathered friend, often misguided by well-intentioned pet enthusiasts, has led to an increase in inadequate living conditions for these avian creatures. This article aims to shed light on the inherent cruelty of keeping birds in cages, emphasizing the mismatch between their natural needs and the captivity they endure.

The allure of cute videos featuring talking birds has captivated the hearts of many, sparking a desire in individuals to bring these charismatic feathered friends into their homes. However, the adorable snippets on social media often present an idealized version of bird ownership, glossing over the intricate care and commitment these intelligent creatures require. Many individuals, enchanted by the charming antics of talking birds, embark on the journey of ownership without fully comprehending the responsibilities involved. The result is often a well-intentioned but ill-prepared pet owner, unaware of the extensive needs, from proper cages and veterinary care to social interaction and mental stimulation, that accompany the joy of sharing a home with these fascinating birds.


One glaring issue in the realm of bird ownership is the deceptive marketing of cages, such as the so-called “African Grey cage,” which often fails to meet the fundamental needs of the birds it has to house. Birds, especially larger species like African Greys, are meant to soar through the skies, exploring expansive territories and exercising their wings. Unfortunately, most commercial cages severely limit these natural behaviours, providing little room for flight and exercise.


Cage – Image by Little Beaks

Vertical cages, another popular choice among bird owners, contribute to the confinement dilemma. Birds predominantly fly horizontally in the wild, making vertical cages an impractical choice.  With a horizontal cage, there is more room to fly across and more room to forage and play on the bottom. Many birds struggle even to flap their wings properly within the confined space, let alone experience the joy of flight.  If a bird can’t expand their wings to full length without touching the sides nor be able to fly in their cage, then the cage is definitely not large enough! Round cages for example can pinch their feet where the cage bars become smaller, so it can be a safety issue.

One of the five freedoms of animal welfare includes the opportunity to express natural behaviour.  How much flight is your bird getting? This limitation results in physical and psychological distress for our feathered friends.


Beyond the physical constraints, the ignorance surrounding the proper care of birds exacerbates their suffering. Unlike cats and dogs, birds are not as domesticated (maybe tamed), making their needs distinct and often misunderstood. Many well-intentioned pet owners rely on advice from pet shops, assuming it to be comprehensive and in the best interest of the bird. Pet shops are in it for profit, not for improving the lives of animals, otherwise, they would not be selling them, fuelling the massive overpopulation crisis and encouraging impulse buying without proper homing! These sources rarely provide all the important information required for responsible bird ownership, if any.

Avian veterinary care is another aspect often overlooked. Many towns lack specialized avian veterinarians, leaving bird owners without access to crucial healthcare for their avian companions. Birds require regular check-ups, beak and nail trims, regular deworming and vitamins, and specialized diets to thrive. The absence of proper veterinary care further contributes to the cycle of neglect that captive birds endure.

Read here, why love for your pet, including parrots is not enough.

Our local bird educator is Shy and she can be contacted on 083 653 9755.  She organizes and works closely with the Avian vet Dr. Maryke van Zyl who we bring to Secunda, hosted by Vetcross Eendedam Veterinary Clinic.  The next visit is on 12 April so make sure you book with Shy.



Birds are highly social creatures, thriving on interaction with their own kind. Yet, many are kept in solitary confinement, deprived of the companionship they crave. This isolation can lead to behavioural issues, anxiety, and even depression in these intelligent and social animals.

Enrichment, both mental and physical, is crucial for a bird’s well-being. Inadequate stimulation in a cage leads to boredom, frustration, and stereotypical behaviours, such as incessant feather plucking. Owners must provide toys, puzzles, and activities that mimic the challenges birds face in the wild, fostering a more fulfilling and natural life for their avian companions.


African Grey – Image by Dr. Karen Becker


The hazards of everyday household items pose yet another threat to captive birds. Non-stick pans, scented candles, air purifiers, gas heaters, and various chemicals emit fumes that can be toxic to your pets. Many pet owners are unaware of these dangers, inadvertently exposing their feathered friends to harmful substances that compromise their respiratory systems and overall health.


The longevity of parrots, often living several decades, poses a unique challenge in the realm of pet ownership. Many well-meaning individuals acquire these intelligent and sociable birds without considering the lifelong commitment required. As these feathered companions age, they frequently find themselves passed on from one home to another, becoming casualties of changing circumstances or unprepared owners. For some parrots, this happens 6 or 7 times in their lifetime! Sadly, a significant number of these birds are not even included in their owner’s wills, leaving them in a state of uncertainty. The fortunate ones find solace in rescues or with dedicated rescuers who open their hearts to provide a haven for these neglected souls. Despite the rescuers’ best efforts to offer a vastly improved life, the birds, who are human-imprinted, bear the lifelong scars of their past. While these rescues bring comfort and care, the shadow of a life spent in cages persists, a sad reminder of the challenges faced by parrots who, through no fault of their own, endure a journey of many homes.


If you find wild birds in the Secunda area you can contact Shy 083 653 9755 or Stefan 079 771 7125 for guidance.  Please do not give these birds to well-intentioned people, who do not have the permits or proper knowledge to take care of them. Remember that Pronutro is a no-go to feed! Read more on how to find missing parrots here and how to help wild birds here. 

If you did your homework and still want a bird, please adopt and don’t support any free birds or breeders who are causing this problem that rescues must try to fix. Read more here on what to consider before you get a bird. Brainy Bird – Parrot Rescue and Rehabilitation is an awesome bird rescue you can volunteer at in Gauteng or support in other ways.

It is time for a collective awakening to the inherent cruelty of keeping birds in cages. The soaring melodies and vibrant plumage of these creatures should not be confined to the bars of a cage. Responsible ownership demands a deeper understanding of avian needs, a commitment to proper care, and the acknowledgment that birds are not mere ornaments but sentient beings deserving of a life that mirrors their natural instincts and behaviours. Let us unite in advocating for the rights of our feathered companions, ensuring they are not sentenced to a life of captivity but instead afforded the freedom and dignity they were born to experience.

We will fight not until the cages are comfortable, but until they are empty! Join us by not supporting this industry!


Source: The Bulletin

Necessity of euthanasia


Necessity of euthanasia

The unfortunate necessity of euthanasia (PTS)

Most people will never walk into an animal shelter and most animals will never walk out…

The recent closure of the Highveld Ridge SPCA has left many angry after the NSPCA came here twice in three months and euthanized many animals.  Look, although I am not a supporter of the NSPCA or SPCA movement and think the NSPCA inspectors acted in a disgraceful manner, I believe many do not understand the reality of what is going on in terms of animal numbers. The NSPCA and SPCA movement is a whole other problem that needs to be addressed, but I will leave that for another day.  Today, I will focus on the reality we face in animal welfare.

Euthanasia, or the humane ending of an animal’s life, remains a contentious issue within the realm of animal welfare. The decision to put animals to sleep is a heartbreaking and difficult one, often resulting from the overwhelming challenge of overpopulation. While organizations, such as animal welfare groups, strive to find homes for animals through adoption and marketing efforts, the sheer number of homeless and abused animals far exceeds available resources. In this article, we delve into the reasons behind the need for euthanasia (for now), emphasizing the importance of sterilization, education, responsible ownership, and the necessity for legislation in mitigating this crisis.


We have a MASSIVE OVERPOPULATION CRISIS on our hands.  This is especially for cats and dogs, but birds, rabbits, and other animals too. Not just a problem…A CRISIS‼!

Millions of animals are taken in by shelters worldwide and unfortunately, millions are euthanized annually. THERE ARE JUST NOT ENOUGH HOMES for all these animals.  I am not even talking about good homes (which is a whole other debate), just homes. If you have not volunteered in animal welfare, nor read our posts then you might not even begin to grasp the extent, so here is a bit of perspective:


Pet overpopulation – Image shared via Spay and Neuter SA

  • It is estimated that 1 (one) unsterilized female dog, her female offspring, and their offspring over a period of 6 years can produce a total of 67 000 (sixty-seven thousand)) puppies. The equivalent situation is even worse for cats where it is estimated that 1 (one) unsterilized female cat, her female offspring and their offspring over 7 years can produce a total of 370 000 kittens.
  • SPCA numbers: In one month, just three small to medium SPCAs received 982 animals; two-thirds were surrendered by owners, and a third were strays found in the streets. In South Africa, there are 69 SPCAs and an estimated 450 private shelters/NPOs. Out of the 982 animals mentioned earlier, only 50 were adopted, and 20 were claimed. This means that these three SPCAs only, had an excess of 912 animals.  It comes to more than 90% of the animals having to be euthanized.

If you don’t want them to euthanize, what do you expect them to do with all the animals?

  • A global pet homelessness index revealed that about 4 million animals (cats and dogs) are homeless in SA, with approximately 650,000 ending up in shelters.
  • It is estimated that in SA, about 2800 animals are euthanized (put to sleep) per day due to a lack of available homes.

Animal welfare organizations received a staggering number of animals, creating an overflow that shelters struggle to accommodate. The breeding culture, supported by both “registered” and backyard breeders, exacerbates the problem, leading to the unavoidable reality of euthanasia. The overwhelming number of animals in need surpasses the capacity for available homes, placing an immense burden on organizations.

They breed them faster than we can safe them!


Animal shelters – Image by The Paw Company


To clarify, I don’t distinguish between backyard breeders, puppy mills, owners who allow their pets to have litters, and so-called “responsible” breeders.  They are all causing the problem. No breeding is responsible when we have to humanely kill 2800 healthy animals a day.

Unregulated breeding, unregulated trading of animals as well as irresponsible ownership is the problem.


The photo is of an unadopted dog on the way to being euthanized. Image shared via The Paw Company


Today I took my final walk…because you didn’t sterilise your pets and they had a litter!

Today I took my final walk…because you moved and I was not included in your plans!

Today I took my final walk…because you supported free to good home ads!

Today I took my final walk…because you supported breeders!

Today I took my final walk…because you kept breeding!

Today I took my final walk…because you let me roam the streets!

Today I took my final walk…because I didn’t suit your lifestyle!

Today I took my final walk….because you abandoned me!

Today I took my final walk…because you were too lazy to seek behavioural experts or to stimulate/exercise me!

Today I took my final walk…because there are just not enough homes for us all!

Today I took my final walk…because you are a selfish human!

Blame these people for the overpopulation crisis and be angry at them! You can also help by not doing or supporting any of the above!

We also need a shift in societal attitudes, urging people to adopt instead of supporting breeders and pet shops.


Animal welfare organizations play a vital role in rescuing and caring for animals, often becoming the last resort for those in need. However, the limitations in available kennel space force organizations to make heart-wrenching decisions about which animals to keep and which ones, unfortunately, have to be euthanized. The emotional toll on staff is immense, as they bear witness to the consequences of irresponsible breeding and ownership and the same goes for the kind veterinarians who offer this service to organizations.

Even the shelters that are pro-life must either show animals away at some point or they must euthanize them for space. Both being terrible decisions. Keeping them in cages indefinitely is also cruel. I don’t know 10 people who want to adopt right now, do you?

Read more to understand this emotional experience and difficult decision for rescuer organisations or rescue veterinarians, when rescue animals take their final walk.


Another issue contributing to overpopulation is the lack of sterilization of companion animals. Financial constraints prevent many owners, especially in economically disadvantaged areas, from affording the cost of sterilization, which can range from R650 to R1200 or more. This economic dilemma forces individuals to choose between feeding their pets and sterilizing them. The burden falls on organizations like animal welfare groups to deal with the consequences.

In the Netherlands, they addressed this issue succesfully with stricter laws and making sterlization free and easily accessible.


Animal Overpopulation – R.I.P dear souls – Image shared by Spay and Neuter SA



Asking nicely has proven insufficient in addressing the root causes of overpopulation. Legislation will become a necessary tool to enforce compulsory sterilization and breeding regulations in South Africa. The government must also play a role in regulating the trade of animals and ensuring that responsible ownership practices are upheld. Without a legal frameworks, the cycle of irresponsible breeding will persist, leading to more animals in need and a continued reliance on euthanasia to manage the crisis.



Large-scale sterilization campaigns and educational initiatives emerge as crucial solutions to combat overpopulation. However, organizations face challenges in implementing these strategies due to financial constraints. While we don’t have enough legislation yet, the public will need to offer support to fund sterilization efforts.

Look, we should not stop sterilizing as every animal that cannot breed will not contribute to the problem, however, at this stage, it seems they are breeding animals faster than we can sterilize and safe them.

At a recent spay day shared by Change for the Better Foundation, they successfully handled 47 animals. However, 8 of them were pregnant. If allowed to give birth, these 35 babies would necessitate another spay day. We can’t get ahead if breeding is not regulated, creating a vicious cycle. Shelters can’t kill what they don’t receive!

Let that sink in.


Image by Spay and Neuter SA


Animal welfare organizations are on the frontline, grappling with the heartbreaking decision of euthanasia due to limited resources and overwhelming demand. The plea is for individuals to understand the gravity of the situation and actively contribute to solutions. Whether through volunteering, adopting, financially supporting sterilization campaigns or supporting legislative effors……. everyone has a role to play in addressing the overpopulation crisis. This includes sterlization of your own animals and not allowing them in the streets.

The public rarely sees or understands what is really going on. Those in animal welfare are in tears at least once a day. They want to give up multiple times a day.  The suffering is heartbreaking and that is on top of, deciding who lives or dies or having to say no to one animal after your 20th call that day.  They get depressed and suicides are very high in this industry.  I fear a day when there are too few of us left. This can all be avoided if people are more responsible.

The overpopulation crisis in animal welfare demands urgent attention and action. Sterilization, education, responsible ownership, and legislative measures are vital components of a comprehensive solution. Until these measures are embraced on a larger scale, the heartbreaking decision to euthanize animals will remain an unfortunate reality. It is a collective responsibility to alleviate the burden on animal welfare organizations and create a more compassionate and sustainable future for our furry companions.

Humans domesticated and bred these animals, humans created the problem, humans are failing them, and humans need to fix it!


Source: The Bulletin