Rural townships are home to an estimated 85% of all pets in South Africa, and most of them are likely to suffer agonising gruesome deaths. Township life is tough and dangerous, and most poverty-stricken pet owners don’t regard animal welfare as a priority. In fact, it’s at the bottom of their to-do lists, and many animals end up on the streets as a result. On top of this, most rural households cannot afford veterinary care and many pets are not vaccinated. Sick animals are often killed for fear of potential infections.
For urban township dogs, life is worse. Starvation, rabies, uncontrollable reproduction, diseases and animal cruelty are part of their daily lives. With winter in full swing, many of these animals won’t make it on the streets and some will even freeze to death.
Dogs have become regular targets for troubled children, who have never been educated about animal welfare. Recently in the Cape Town township of Langa, seven pups were stabbed with pointed sticks and then set alight by a group of children. Michelle, the mother of the pups, jumped into the flames and bravely pulled each of her puppies to safety. She was severely burnt herself.
Animal welfare organization, Network for Animals (NFA), rescued the puppies, provided them with veterinary care, and took them to a local animal shelter who will care for pups until they find suitable homes for them.
This is one of many similar stories where animals have been attacked and tortured by children.
“Awareness on animal welfare is desperately needed and NFA conducts workshops educating communities about it, but more needs to be done,” said NFA’s chief campaigner, David Barritt.
“We are increasing our rescue efforts to save as many of these animals as we possibly can, especially as the South African winter deepens, temperatures plummet and dogs become even more vulnerable,” said Barritt.