Dr Trudie Prinsloo is a qualified veterinarian and attorney. In 2015 she started Legalvet Services to provide legal advice to the animal health and veterinary industries in South Africa – and now she’s teamed up with us to tell us how we can report cases of animal abuse.

dotsure.co.za is not responsible or liable for any advice or any other information provided herein.

As part of the dotsure.co.za family, you obviously care about your pets and animals in general.  For people such as us, it is incomprehensible that humans would deliberately harm animals, especially their loyal furry children.


Unfortunately, this is far more common than we would like to know.  Reported cases of animal abuse are only the tip of the iceberg. I have not been able to find any South African statistics on this, but in the USA it is estimated that an animal is abused every minute. My guess would be that it is at least the same, if not worse, in South Africa.


What qualifies as animal abuse?

There are many different forms of abuse. It can be intentional, such as beating, kicking, or hurting an animal in another way, or it can be through neglect, such as failing to give food or water and to provide proper shelter for animals.

The Animals Protection Act, No. 71 of 1962 criminalises animal abuse and sets out a whole list of actions towards animals that are criminal offences.  You can get a copy of the act and its amendments at https://www.gov.za/documents/animals-protection-act-22-jun-1963-0000.   Some of the most common offences are:

  • Ill-treating, beating, kicking, torturing, infuriating, goading, terrifying, maiming, or neglecting an animal.
  • Confining, tethering, chaining, or securing an animal in such a way that it causes unnecessary suffering.
  • Starving, under-feeding, and denying water to animals.
  • Overloading, overdriving and overriding an animal. These are actions commonly seen with horses and donkeys.
  • Keeping animals in dirty or parasitic conditions and allowing them to become infested with parasites.
  • Deliberately or without good reason abandoning an animal in circumstances that will cause suffering to the animal, even if it is temporary.
  • Causing any unnecessary suffering to an animal deliberately, unreasonably, or negligently through any action or omission of an action.
  • Being responsible for or connected in any way to animal fights.


Why should you report animal abuse?

There are many reasons why people are reluctant to get involved with cases of animal abuse.  Sometimes people are not sure it is an abusive act, or they may be too scared of the perpetrator to get involved.  But these should not be reasons that stop you from reporting the suspected abuse.

Animals that are abused cannot speak for themselves and they can only be helped by people who witness it and are prepared to get involved.  If that is not enough reason to report abuse, let me tell you how closely animal abuse is related to other crimes. There are numerous research articles on this topic, and some of the shocking statistics are:

  • In up to 71% of households where domestic violence is reported, animal abuse is also present. This figure increases to 88% where there is child abuse reported.
  • Children who have been abused are three times more likely to abuse animals intentionally, while children who are sexually abused are five times more likely to abuse animals.
  • There is a clear relationship between bullying and animal abuse.
  • People who abuse animals are three times more likely to commit other crimes, including seemingly unrelated crimes, such as robbery and drug abuse.
  • There is a very high correlation between children with histories of violence towards animals and violent offenders, including serial killers, rapists, and paedophiles.

To report and prevent animal abuse, may therefore have a far bigger impact than just assisting the abused animal.


What information do you need to report regarding animal abuse?

Collect as much detailed information as possible when you want to report a case of animal abuse.  Depending on the urgency and nature of the abuse, it may differ, but the following information is required:

  • A detailed description of the animal or animals that are being abused.
  • The place where the abuse has taken place and where the animals are kept.
  • As much information about the abuser of the animals and the owner of the animals as you have.
  • The date and time of the abuse and if it happens regularly.
  • A detailed description of the abuse that has been witnessed or of the injuries to the animal that have been witnessed.
  • If it is possible to take photographs and videos of the abuse, it will be very helpful.
  • Details of other witnesses who are prepared to testify.


How to report animal abuse

The two main avenues to report animal abuse in South Africa is through a welfare organization, such as your local SPCA or through the SAPS.  In most instances, it will be easier to report it to your local SPCA, since they deal with animal abuse matters daily.  However, in areas where there is not a local SPCA, you can report it directly to the SAPS.

If for some reason that is not successful, go to a more senior person, or contact the National SPCA.  You can also discuss this with your veterinarian, who will be able to guide you in other directions.  Make sure you contact an emergency phone number over weekends or in an emergency.

You can remain anonymous if you wish to and have a good reason for wanting to remain anonymous.  Please remember that without a witness and proper proof, the vast majority of cases will not be able to be successfully prosecuted.

If you become aware of animal abuse through a social media platform such as Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, report it to the local authorities first.  If you report it to the social media platform, they will remove the post and possibly close the account of the user.  That will then make it impossible for the local authorities to investigate and stop the abuse.

Once you have reported a case, please follow up to make sure that it has come to someone’s attention and that something is being done.  If one avenue of reporting is not successful, please report it to another authority.

Some useful links to report animal abuse: