Too many dogs and not enough homes
Animal welfare organisations in South Africa are reporting a “dramatic and sustained increase in animals being surrendered”, according to the Sunday Times newspaper.
One of the most frequent reasons people give for surrendering their animals to shelters is the loss of a job and a consequent inability to afford food and veterinary costs, a spokesperson for the country’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) told the newspaper.
The South African economy was in recession for much of last year and although its performance has improved slightly in the first quarter of 2018, the economic downturn has hit South Africans hard.
In some cases, pet owners are forced to give up their animals when they move to smaller homes in an effort to save money.
Large breeds such as German shepherds and labradors are most at risk, said a NSPCA spokesperson.
Farrah Khan Maharajh, of Feeding the Furballs, an animal rescue organisation quoted by the Sunday Times said: "Thirty percent of the time the owners surrender the dogs to … rescue organisations. Seventy percent of the time the dogs are abandoned at the old property and left to fend for themselves, until someone notices them there.”
The high number of pets being surrendered puts pressure on animal rescue organisations. There are simply too many animals and not enough homes.
Charnell Ruth, of Husky Rescue KwaZulu-Natal, looks after about 50 huskies and husky mixed breeds.
"We have already taken in 10 dogs since the beginning of the year, with another eight waiting to come in. And we have successfully homed only one since January."
Ruth said that among the most common reasons she was given was that the owners were moving to smaller homes and couldn't cope financially.
"It is an unprecedented crisis. Rescue centres throughout the country, big and small, are completely overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of dogs and cats left homeless due to these reasons," she said.
Animal behaviourist John Faul described the situation as "one of the most heartbreaking of all the animal welfare issues".
He said: “To the dog, who by nature is an extremely loyal animal, this is devastating as they are separated from their pack and in their world that can mean a death sentence."
Network for Animals continues to support TEARS Animal Rescue and Fallen Angels, no-kill shelters that work extremely hard to provide shelter, veterinary care and good homes to dogs and cats in South Africa’s Western Cape province.