The Durban and Pietermaritzburg Branch of the Animal Anti-Cruelty League has been in operation since 1959, and our mission is to prevent and eliminate cruelty to all animals, whether arising from ignorance, neglect or deliberate cruelty, and to alleviate suffering caused by such cruelty. We receive many phone calls from the public relating to animals which need help, and we respond by investigating the complaint within 24 hours and then take the most appropriate action depending on the circumstances we find. We prefer an approach of “education before prosecution” and where necessary, our inspectors readily impart advice to the public that will assist them in the correct care of their animals.
But we dedicate the majority of our time and effort in the townships and rural communities surrounding Durban and Pietermaritzburg. In these areas where communities can barely feed themselves, the normal cost of sterilising animals is out of the question, with the result that every day more and more unwanted puppies and kittens are born, most of which are doomed to an existence of hunger, disease and abuse. Equally, their mothers endure a tough life, made worse by on-going mating, repeated pregnancies and the risk of debilitating disease.
It is for these reasons that our first priority with any funding is to support our sterilisation programme, which also includes vaccinations against rabies and other diseases, as well as deworming. By breaking the cycle of continual breeding and eliminating disease, we believe we can secure the following benefits:
• Female cats and dogs are spared the stress of repeated pregnancies, and potentially the pain of sexually transmitted diseases
• The numbers of animals facing the risks referred to above are dramatically reduced
• Community members are safer through a significantly reduced risk of rabies and other diseases, and reduced incidents of attacks and other unwanted behaviour by scavenging packs of dogs
• Community members can enjoy a more meaningful relationship with their pets as they have fewer animals to feed and look after, and the overall impact of animal diseases is significantly reduced.
While we remain determined to continue this focus, our ability to sterilise significant numbers of animals varies with the constraints of our funding. We have worked hard to establish strong and trusted relationships with various sponsors, and this has provided a greater level of sustainability through which we can spend more time in poorer communities. This ongoing presence within these communities has developed trust, which in turn has made it easier for us to convince pet owners to accept the need for sterilisations. We are therefore appealing to donors to continue supporting our cause by donating funds to be used in our sterilisation campaigns. These campaigns will continue in locations where we have already established good community rapport, and hopefully expand into surrounding areas.
Once we have obtained authorisation for sterilisations from owners, we collect animals and transport them to supportive welfare veterinary clinics for examination, sterilisation and vaccination, and then return these animals to their owners. In order to minimise costs and build on established community relationships, our experienced field team will operate in one area for 5 to 10 days in a row – this also allows supporting veterinary clinics to achieve some economies of scale.
The AACL remains committed to our focus on sterilisations irrespective of funding levels but our appeal is driven by concerns regarding our continued sustainability. We are experiencing increasing difficulty in raising funds from donations, given South Africa’s poor economy and declining levels of disposable income but we are positive that people will continue to want to support the work that we do.