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Response to the Red Meat Producers Organisation Regarding Live Export by Sea

NSPCA Live Export

The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) is amazed by the statement made by the Red Meat Producers Organisation (RPO) regarding their sudden change in position when it comes to live animal export by sea.

In a statement issued on 21 July 2020 by the RPO, it has extended its support of the trade as long as it is ethically undertaken – ethics and live export go together like chalk and cheese. Live animal export by sea is a trade that is inherently unethical given the undeniable and unavoidable animal suffering that takes place on board these ships.

The RPO have referred to the application of OIE standards and that the government, as the “regulatory authority” should oversee these – but these standards were created for countries around the globe, many of which do not have any animal welfare legislation, these standards simply do not belong in a country like South Africa where animals are constitutionally recognised as sentient beings and there is strong animal protection legislation – legislation that supersedes standards in any event. Furthermore, in our opinion, the government is not capable of enforcing the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962, nor would they be impartial.

It is surprising that the RPO have suddenly gone against the decision made by them, and other members of the Livestock Welfare Coordinating Committee (LWCC). In 2012, and later revised in 2019, the LWCC, which the RPO is an active member of, adopted the position to oppose the live animal export by sea – the RPO have now changed their position and have done so on the basis of biased documentation provided by Al Mawashi and KLTT, the Kuwaiti export company, that obviously have high stakes in this operation.

We find it ludicrous that two veterinarians of the Red Meat Industry Forum (RMIF), who inspected the feedlot and an empty ship, can come to the conclusion that sheep should be loaded “as soon as possible”, especially in light of the fact that August is the hottest month in the year in the Middle East – suffering on these ships is exacerbated during the Northern Hemisphere summers.

The Muslim Judicial Council Halaal Trust (MJCHT) issued a press statement reiterating its concern for the welfare of animals, stating that the South African government “could not provide the necessary safety conditions for the animals on sea-vessels”. The MJCHT do not justify the suffering of animals for religious slaughter, in fact, they have stated that animals that are not transported in good physical condition cannot be considered Halaal for slaughter and have agreed that animals should rather be Halaal slaughtered in South Africa.

Read MJCHT’s statement here.

The South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) recognises animals as sentient beings that are capable of experiencing both positive and negative states, SAVA therefore does not support live export of animal by sea for the purposes of slaughter upon arrival when humane alternatives are available. This is in line with veterinary bodies around the world.

The RPO and Agri SA, in our opinion, are regressive while others are becoming more informed – it is apparent, in our opinion, that the RPO and Agri SA are disregarding the cruelty entrenched in this business for profit margins, they are simply apathetic to the welfare of these animals and they should be judged in the court of public opinion. Let the campaign begin.

The NSPCA is opposed to the live export of animals by sea. 

FAQ

Q: Why did the NSPCA not attend the inspection of the empty vessel?

A: The NSPCA has already been on board this vessel when there were animals already on it – this is a better indicator of welfare concerns than an empty vessel will ever be able to reveal. Furthermore, there are reports historically of disasters that have happened on this specific vessel and the countless animal welfare concerns are documented.

The NSPCA’s legal representatives requested that Al Mawashi and KLTT show the NSPCA the improvements that have been made prior to the inspection – this was not provided.

Source: National Council of SPCA’s

Training methods based on punishment compromise dog welfare

Training methods based on punishment compromise dog welfare

Training a dog! Credit: Ana Catarina Vieira de Castro

After aversive training, dogs had a lower behavioral state (higher stress and anxiety); if aversive methods were used in high proportions, that persisted even in other contexts

Dogs trained using aversive stimuli, which involve punishments for incorrect behavior, show evidence of higher stress levels compared to dogs trained with reward-based methods, according to a study publishing December 16 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Ana Catarina Vieira de Castro from the Universidade do Porto, Portugal, and colleagues.

The researchers observed the behavior of 92 companion dogs from 7 dog training schools in Portugal that use either aversive methods (which use mainly aversive stimuli), reward methods (which focus on rewarding desired behaviours), and mixed methods (which combine the use of both rewards and aversive stimuli). They filmed training sessions and tested saliva samples for the stress-related hormone cortisol. Dogs trained using aversive and mixed methods displayed more stress-related behaviors, such as crouching and yelping, and showed greater increases in cortisol levels after training than dogs trained with rewards.

The authors also conducted a cognitive bias test in an unfamiliar location outside of the dog’s usual training environment with 79 of the dogs, to measure their underlying emotional state. They found that dogs from schools using aversive methods responded more pessimistically to ambiguous situations compared with dogs receiving mixed- or reward-based training.

Previous survey-based studies and anecdotal evidence has suggested that punishment-based training techniques may reduce animal welfare, but the authors state that this study is the first systematic investigation of how different training methods influence welfare both during training and in other contexts. They say that these results suggest that aversive training techniques may compromise animal welfare, especially when used at high frequency.

The authors add: “This is the first large scale study of companion dogs in a real training setting, using the types of training methods typically applied in dog training schools and data collected by the research team. The results suggest that the use of aversive training methods, especially in high proportions, should be avoided because of their negative impact on dog welfare.”

Source: EurekAlert!

 

Parvovirus cases continue to rise in Cape Town

Image: Pixabay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Symptoms of Parvo:

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

Current Challenges with positive cases:

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

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

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

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

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

Pearls of wisdom:

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

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

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

Picture: Unsplash

Source: www.capetownetc.com

Silly Season and Animal Welfare

Animals are not gifts – Image by The Paw Company

Silly Season is in FULL Swing and with that comes many Animal Welfare issues.SUES.
This time of year is never a good one for animal welfare organizations and their staff.  There is always an extra influx of surrendered and lost animals, injured and scared ones after fireworks events, convenience euthanasia, extra expenses with less donations and then the additional problem of animals as gifts, etc. Animal welfare never gets a holiday as it is a 24/7 kind of job which is physically and emotionally exhausting.

Let’s touch on a few things that happen during this time.

ANIMALS AS GIFTS
The festive season is not too far away, but whether it is a puppy for Christmas, bunnies for Easter, a kitten for a birthday, or something else, animals should not be on the shopping list! Some people buy animals for themselves and those who buy them for others. Both can be equally dangerous if the person who has to take care of the pet is not prepared to be a proper pet guardian/owner. Buying pets for someone else is a particularly bad idea! Here is why:

  1. Animals are not and should never be seen as commodities. They are sentient beings and not disposable toys. Giving them as gifts sends the wrong message and is usually an impulse buy.
  2. Animals are not gifts; they are 10-20 years (or more) commitments.
  3. Many animals given as gifts find their way to shelters a short time after. According to some studies at least 14% if not more. This sounds low to you, but in an overwhelmed animal welfare system, this is 14% on top of crowded shelters and it could have been prevented.
  4. Children’s attention span will fit better with a stuffed toy than with a sentient being whose needs should be a priority. Children lose interest quickly.

HAVE YOU CONSIDERED THE FOLLOWING?

  • Interest: Did this person already express interest in owning a pet?
  • Cost & Resources: Is the recipient financially capable, stable, and willing to pay for food, supplies, veterinary care, and other services over the animal’s lifetime? You don’t want to give them a gift of debt.
  • Time & Energy: Does the recipient have time for daily exercise, interaction, and play? How active are they? How often is this person at home? Although you might love the animal, they do not come without work.
  • Space: What kind of environment will the animal live in? How big is the yard or space to move in? Does the building or residence have any restrictions on pets?
  • The Future: Do they plan to move locally or possibly overseas? Are there kids on the way or job changes coming? Could their financial situation change soon?
  • Compatibility: What kind of animal would fit this recipient’s lifestyle best? Are they right for that animal? It is not just about the owner, but also about the needs of the animal.
  • Age: Is this pet age appropriate? Some kids are too young to take responsibility for their pets and buying pets for elderly parents can be just as irresponsible.
  • Health: Does the recipient have allergies or other conditions that would conflict with caring for this pet?
  • Other Pets: Will this new animal get along with other animals in the household?

What is worst is there is usually a dump of animals during the season, but also early in the new year when animals were bought on impulse or as gifts and are now inconvenient. Some people even get rid of the older or other pets and get new ones for Christmas. Please don’t get animals as gifts!

LOST PETS
Irresponsible owners go away without having someone check in on their pets or they have someone check in who is not equipped to meet the animal’s needs or handle emergencies. Animals get out because it is easy, but also because they are left alone or worse poisoned for break-ins or stolen. 

Secure your yard, and make sure your pets’ microchips are registered on multiple databases. Get a high-quality pet sitter who can spend a lot of time with them every day, especially if they don’t stay in. Make sure they have proper shelter during potential storms or extreme weather. I inform my vet who my pet sitter is and that they may bring them in if there is an emergency as well as who can make decisions if we can’t be reached and what happens to them if something happens to us when we are away.  Have flyers ready in case your pet gets out and make sure your pet sitter knows what to do.

Silly Season and Animal Welfare

Fireworks cruelty – Image by The Paw Company

TIPS FOR FIREWORK PREPARATION
Pet owners dread holidays and occasions that feature fireworks. These events usually send domestic animals into a frenzy of worry or a state of frozen terror. Noise phobia (fireworks & storms etc.) is one of the top reasons why many animals try to get out or get lost. Dogs and other animals can seriously injure themselves attempting to escape during storms, fireworks displays, and other noisy events. If you don’t have a plan yet, start preparing now because you are responsible for them.

There are things you can do to help your furry family members remain calm when fireworks may be used, but executing your plan prior to your dog becoming stressed is most important. 

  • Use a teaspoon to knock on various surfaces around the house and follow up with a treat. This teaches your dog that startling sounds predict yummy food.
  • Teach your dog to use a Kong or chew toy so that they can engage in this calming activity during the next fireworks occasion.
  • Play with your dog during thunderstorms. Creating an association between play and the cracks of lightning will aid in generalizing a positive emotional state during fireworks.
  • Make sure your microchip information is registered on more than one database and up-to-date as well as your animal has an up-to-date tag on their collar. This is a big challenge when we find pets with out-of-date details.
  • If you know your animal is prone to extreme stress during this time, then see your veterinarian, before these events, for some medication. Never use human medication and discuss the use of natural remedies with your veterinarian.
  • Make sure your yard is secure and safe as many pets who try to escape get stuck on palisades or hurt on another fencing.

WHAT TO DO DURING FIREWORKS

  • On the day of the expected fireworks, look for your animals, especially cats, before the fireworks start.
  • Close windows and curtains so your pet is not startled by sudden flashes.
  • Keep your pets indoors with windows, doors, and pet doors shut & secured so they can’t escape when spooked.
  • If your cat is not used to being indoors, provide extra litter boxes inside.
  • Provide your pet with food before the fireworks as it can help calm them or they might be too stressed to eat later.
  • Give your pet a safe place to hide with blankets and bedding to mask the sounds.   Cats also feel secure and loves boxes.
  • Put the TV or music on to mute the bangs of the fireworks.
  • If your pet is hiding, don’t try to lure them out. This can make them more anxious & stressed.
  • Distract your pet with treats or play time if they are pacing or displaying nervous behaviour.  
  • Stay home with your pets in these frightening times as you would with frightened children. You also need to stay calm as they can feel your anxiety.  

This year volunteer at your local shelters when fireworks are being set off by these selfish humans so you can help comfort the animals. Help us educate others by sharing this information and reporting any unlawful selling or use of fireworks. If you find a lost dog or pet, please take them to the SPCA or local shelter!

CONVENIENCE EUTHANASIA
Convenience euthanasia happens when people don’t want to take care of an animal anymore and this type of euthanasia picks up during the holidays. I guess it is better than dumping it on an already overwhelmed animal welfare system, but still, you choose this animal and are responsible for them not only when it is convenient.

BATS BREEDING SEASON
Many people come across young, injured, or grounded bats and wonder how to help. This happens frequently now as we are in bat breeding season till late February. Know what to do in advance. Care and caution should be exercised and such cases should be referred to the nearest bat interest group, rehabilitation centre, or the SPCA.

Please support reputable local animal welfare organizations by volunteering or donating this festive season, don’t buy pets as gifts, prepare and protect them during firework events and take proper care of your animals. Have compassion for those working extra hard when you are enjoying rest and time with your family.

WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, DO BETTER!

Source: The Bulletin

Lending a Helping Paw

LENDING A HELPING PAW

Helping animal welfare – Image by The Paw Company

How to get involved in Animal Welfare and Help us Save LIVES.
Helping animal welfare can lighten the heavy load for the rescuers. Animal welfare is not just an 8h00 to 17h00 job! It is a job, that most do not get paid for and where your heart is shattered every day! Physically and emotionally, it drains you! If you ask a rescuer for help, that rescuer probably had at least 10 other people ask for help too on any given day. They do this along with running to pick up, drop off, going to the Vet, saving lives, feeding, care, bottle feeding, cleaning, medicating, and answering messages, while sometimes even having a full-time job and a family. It is particularly worse during the Christmas holidays!

YOU CAN HELP BY GETTING INVOLVED
Get involved with a local shelter or organization and be an animal hero. As a bonus, you’ll be surrounded by dogs, cats and other animals, and who doesn’t like that? Another bonus of building a relationship with shelters includes a direct link to the right people when you have a problem or emergency and can’t get hold of a vet.

First, find a reputable shelter and then contact them.

  • Call the shelter or drop by and ask to speak to the volunteer coordinator.
  • Introduce yourself – give your name, and age, and say that you live in the area.
  • Ask if they could use a volunteer or if there are other ways to help the shelter.
  • Find out how the shelter works by asking more questions – it will help you figure out better ways to help.

Sometimes they need volunteers to help feed, wash or walk and play with the animals. If you can’t or don’t want to work with the animals directly? Here is a list of just some other things you can do for the shelter:

  • Clean cages, the backyard, or even the shelter’s office.
  • Make phone calls or do other general office work.
  • Make holiday decorations for the shelter’s office and waiting room or for themed holidays.
  • Good with websites or social media? Help manage pages or groups and share posts.
  • Help educate others. Take pictures for the shelter(if instructed to do so) of new animals and learn how to put them up for adoption and network them.
  • Become a foster home for animals the shelter doesn’t have room for.
  • Assist with lost and found animals so they don’t become the shelters “problem”.
  • Offer any professional skills you might have like accounting, IT, plumbing, etc.
  • Help with fundraising ideas and projects.

WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO TO LIGHTEN THE LOAD?

  • Make the time to read the resources we share even if it does not apply to you at the time.
  • Help us educate others, so tell at least one person what you have learned.
  • Spay & neuter your pets and don’t support any breeders,”free to good home” ads, pet shops, or animal dealers.
  • Always adopt, but from reputable organizations only!
  • Keep your animals safe in your yard so that your animals are not the ones that create an extra burden on the system. Microchip them and make sure the chip is registered on multiple databases otherwise, it’s useless.  Have an ID collar on too as that is a faster way to find the owners.
  • Get involved with reputable local organizations and learn how they operate, what their mandate is and what they need. 
  • On social media – like their posts, and share their post, especially adoption posts.  Commenting helps the algorithms, tag a friend, post a picture or a story update and leave a review!
  • If you can’t give money, you can help with fundraising events and support their events in other ways.
  • Look after the staff and rescuers or other volunteers who deal with the tough and heart-breaking parts of animal welfare every day. Buy a coffee or lunch, leave a note of encouragement, etc.
  • Support only reputable organizations that have proper adoption policies, who are transparent financially, etc.
  • Don’t’ get an animal if you cannot provide for all their needs.
  • Don’t give animals away, rather contact a local organization to facilitate a responsible adoption.
  • Don’t just move without including your pets in the long-term decisions.
  • Don’t blame shelters for what is happening, blame breeders, animal dealers and irresponsible owners.
  • Don’t support cruel practices or industries including zoos, aquariums, circuses with animals, petting farms, animal rides and more. This is stolen freedoms and exploitation of animals for human entertainment.
  • Join if they offer membership and help us hold them accountable by attending AGMs etc.

PLEASE KEEP IN MIND
Animals always need help everywhere and we are grateful for everyone who helps! Sadly, too often we hear the phrase “someone do something”, including a picture of an animal that is dumped, hurt, or lost. Every animal welfare organization is already overwhelmed, which I can guarantee. Many people take in an animal that is hurt or dumped or lost and that is the right thing to do, but the problem comes in with the next step.

They call one of the organizations and just want to hand the animal over, feeling that they did their part. They get angry when the organization says can’t help at the moment and these individuals may even share this on social media. Usually, they do not offer to even donate food or funds or take the animal to someone, because they think the ”rescue” was enough. You are someone, you can do something.

Maybe the organization doesn’t have the resources to help at the moment.  The local SPCA for example is one of a few organizations with paid staff, but they are responsible for almost 20 towns.  If you phone them and the Inspector is in Delmas handling a cruelty case, then they can’t just jump in the car and drive back immediately because you demanded they help now. The organization probably already has at least 10 more animals than they can handle. Organizations are constantly overwhelmed with “do something” cases. You can lighten the load by helping one animal! If you don’t know what to do, there are many resources available and many rescuers will guide you too. You are someone, you can do something!

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.

WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, DO BETTER!

Source: The Bulletin

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.

WHAT IS COMPASSION FATIGUE?
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 AND COMPASSION FATIGUE
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
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.

SUICIDES IN ANIMAL WELFARE
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.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
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.

WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, DO BETTER!

Source: The Bulletin

 

TEARS temporarily closes its Kennel and urges the public to embrace pet adoption as adoption crisis grows in animal welfare sector

TEARS

TEARS temporarily closes its Kennel and urges the public to embrace pet adoption as adoption crisis grows in animal welfare sector

TEARS Animal Rescue has announced that its Kennel is temporarily closed as the organisation is currently 88 animals over capacity with 338 animals in its care ~ including those in foster care. As a result the Shelter has confirmed that no new adult dogs or puppies will be admitted to TEARS until adoption numbers increase.

Says TEARS Operations Manager, Mandy Store, “Our foster network is stretched thin and our Veterinary Clinic and stray runs are at capacity with adult dogs needing care or are awaiting admission into the Kennel. TEARS Kennel adoptions are down by nearly 40% based on last year’s averages and we’ve simultaneously seen a massive spike in the number of animals, especially dogs, being surrendered because pet owners aren’t able to feed their pets.” 

TEARS TEARS

TEARS is urging the public to support the “adopt don’t shop” movement and highlighting the need for more Capetonians to consider opening their homes to homeless pets this Season by hosting a “Forever Home for The Holidays” Open Day at its Cattery and Kennels this weekend from 10h00 – 14h00 on both Saturday and Sunday.

TEARS Kennel Manager Luke Kruyt comments, “The temporary closure on admissions will enable us to provide the vital treatment, rehabilitation, and care that every rescued pet deserves, while we focus on increasing adoptions and fostering to help save more lives. We hope our Forever Home For The Holidays Open Day will highlight that rescues are the best breed and encourage families or individuals to adopt a rescue pet, which in turn will provide a vital “second chance” to another homeless pet in need.”

For those who prefer a virtual “adoption window” they can check out potentially “purrfect” pet matches via the TEARS website at www.tears.org.za and clicking on the Adoption link.
TEARS TEARS

TEARS Head of Marketing and Fundraising, Lara Van Rensburg emphasises how the public can make a positive impact on the current crisis by fostering and/or adopting a rescue pet. “The increasing imbalance between pet adoptions in relation to pet homelessness is a tragic trend being experienced by all local animal shelters as more and more pet owners struggle to care for their pets and coupled with that, there are less pet-friendly rentals available for animal lovers.  In addition to needing more people to open their homes to rescue pets , we urgently need to ensure that Cape Town identifies as a pet-friendly city and that local businesses are also invested in addressing the causes of pet homelessness and community health by donating to companion animal sterilisation and vaccination programmes.”

Those who are interested in donating to TEARS can do via the TEARS bank account:

  • Acc Name: TEARS
  • Bank: Standard Bank
  • Current Bank Account: 072062886 / Branch No: 051001

Donations to TEARS are tax deductible, with donors receiving a Section 18A tax receipt.

TEARS

For more information about the TEARS Forever Home for The Holidays” Open Day this weekend you can find more details on

Source: Tears Animal Rescue

Necessity of euthanasia

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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.

OVERPOPULATION CRISIS – THE NUMBERS

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:

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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!

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Animal shelters – Image by The Paw Company

WHO IS TO BLAME?

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.

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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

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.

THE ROLE OF ANIMAL WELFARE ORGANIZATIONS

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.

STERILIZATION AND FINANCIAL CONSTRAINTS

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.

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

THE SOLUTION

THE NEED FOR LEGISLATION

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.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF STERILIZATION AND EDUCATION

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.

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Image by Spay and Neuter SA

FACING THE REALITY

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!

WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, YOU DO BETTER!

Source: The Bulletin