While many people in Cape Town enjoyed the festive season and New Year celebrations, animal clinics and welfare societies had their work cut out for them as abandoned animals flooded their kennels and catteries. Some were also brought in with horrifying injuries, placing the clinics under severe pressure.

From December, the Animal Welfare Society (AWS) in Philippi had their kennels filled to capacity and they remain full.

AWS’s Allan Perrins says the most common cause of the festive season influx of pets in crisis is owners going on holiday without making timely arrangements for the boarding or care of their pets.

Some owners also decide to replace their “old” pets with new ones as gifts over the holidays, leaving the old animals unwanted. People also tend to relocate during this period and this includes moving to complexes where pets are not allowed.

“It is impossible to comprehend this degree of indifference but this is a fact”, Perrins says.

The animals are often found dumped on the door step of the clinic and some arrive or are found in refuse bags, boxes or tied to the nearest pole.

With a non-selective admissions policy, the clinic will never turn away any animal in need. “The festive season influx is an annual aberration but we would rather that owners surrender their unwanted pets to us than dump them, pass them on or sell them to unknown third parties.”

The clinic has also seen an increase in holiday-related injuries throughout this time. The most common are ones that mostly would have been easily avoidable, including fireworks injuries, motor vehicle accidents and dog-on-dog fight injuries.

However, they have also had to deal with deliberate acts of cruelty and negligence such as inadequate food, water, shelter, and denial of veterinary care.

While most of the cases the shelter deals with comes from the Cape Flats, Perrins says, “animal cruelty knows no boundaries.”

“I have witnessed the most despicable acts of cruelty perpetrated by those far more fortunate and far better educated than those less fortunate and ignorant.”

“We recently rescued a kitten tied to an electrical junction box on the busy M5 in the vicinity of Access Park in Kenilworth,” he says.

AWS has an average monthly operating deficit that totals R250 000, and this doubled over the holiday period.

“We coped admirably but the relentless pace of the holiday period has left our staff and bank account drained and in need of replenishment as the demand for our services is on-going and on the increase as more and more people semi-grate to the Cape in search of work and better opportunities – with their animals,” says Perrins.

Over December, the clinic’s food consumption increased to around two tonnes of dry dog food. While there is a slight increase in income during this time, it is nowhere near what is invested in the care and rehabilitation of animals.

This year AWS will celebrate its 90th anniversary, having helped many thousands of animals of all shapes and sizes in the Cape.

“We never turn any animal in need away and whilst money is a very serious consideration and we are always prudent it is not our over-riding consideration,” says Perrins. “We always put the animals first. Their welfare and wellbeing is our top priority and this ethos has served us well for going on 90 years. It is one of the main reasons Cape Town’s animal loving population support us.”

“Be our eyes and ears,” Perrins says. You can call AWS at 021 692 2626 or 082 601 1761 for after hours emergencies.

With no funding from the government or Lotto, the clinic is in desperate need of help to ease the financial strain of the holiday period.

You can also help to support AWS via the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet fundraising programme. This does not cost donors a single cent and every time they shop and swipe their card at any of their 1 500 partners, AWS receives a contribution.

Banking details:

Animal Welfare Society of South Africa NPO 003-037

Nedbank (cheque account)

Account number: 114 8222 588

Branch code: 198765

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Pictures: Facebook/ Animal Welfare Society of SA

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