“According to the Animal Protection Act of 1962, anyone who does not follow the regulations set out by the Act and its bylaws may receive a penalty of up to a fine of R4,000 and could even face imprisonment for 24 months.” Does that serve as justice for the act of animal cruelty or neglect? That’s debatable!
Apart from the questionable punishment for animal cruelty, are there enough laws regarding animal rights or should we fight for more?
Before we decide, let’s familiarise ourselves with the Animals Protection Act of 1962, which clearly states the laws against Animal Cruelty.
OFFENCES IN RESPECT OF ANIMALS – (1) Any person who:
(a) overloads, overdrives, overrides, ill-treats, neglects, infuriates, tortures or maims or cruelly beats, kicks, goads or terrifies any animal; or
(b) confines, chains, tethers or secures any animal unnecessarily or under such conditions or in such a manner or position as to cause that animal unnecessary suffering or in any place which affords inadequate space, ventilation, light protection or shelter from heat, cold or weather; or
(c) unnecessarily starves or under-feeds or denies water or food to any animal; or
(d) lays or exposes any poisoned fluid or edible matter or infectious agents except for the destruction of vermin or marauding domestic animals or without taking reasonable precautions to prevent injury or disease being caused to animals.
Animal fights – (1) Any person who –
(a) possesses, keeps, imports, buys, sells, trains, breeds or has under his control an animal for the purpose of fighting any other animal;
(b) baits or provokes or incites any animal to attack another animal or to proceed with the fighting of another animal;
(c) for financial gain or as a form of amusement promotes animal fights
Find the rest of the laws here: Animals Protection Act of 1962.
The enforcement of animal laws in South Africa
In a recent case in Durban, a woman pleaded guilty to animal cruelty for attaching a dog to a short chain and neglecting him. “The short chain was like a noose around his neck and was embedded into the skin around his whole neck. He had a raw, severely infected, open wound, all around his neck which was approximately 1.5cm deep,” says Brigette Ferguson. The poor pooch sadly lost his life due to severe injuries.
The Kloof and Highway SPCA opened a case of animal cruelty against the animal abuser under the Animals Protection Act, No 71 of 1962. She received a fine of only R2,000 and was banned from owning a pet for life. Is that punishment enough? Well, animal activists might beg to differ. In fact, Khetani Animal Rescue in Durban believes that animal laws in South Africa should change, be properly enforced and that more authority should be given to animal activists. Is the law outdated and largely open to interpretation?
Khetani started an online petition over a month ago to give the animals in South Africa a fighting chance. So far, they’ve got the support of animal lovers all over the country. They’ve managed to get over 12,000 signatures, which they will present to the government in a quest to give animals the voice they deserve in South Africa. “We want a change in the laws. They’re outdated and some of them have grey areas,” says founder of Khetani Animal Rescue, Judy van der Westhuizen.
If you agree with Khetani and you feel that it’s time that we as animal lovers unite and fight for change and more animal rights, you can sign the petition here: Khetani Animal Rescue petition.
We’ve got the power to give animals a fair chance. Even if we can’t change the law ourselves, we can make a difference and support animal welfare. Together, we can improve the lives of those who love their humans unconditionally.
What can you do to support animal welfare?
Improving animal care at every level of society is a big job that takes individual and collective energy.
As an individual, you can:
- Help encourage best practise by supporting organisations that care for animals, be it your local shelter or a rhino orphanage.
- Volunteer to walk doggies awaiting adoption or cuddle kitties awaiting new homes.
- Stay up to date with animal rights news and get involved in public events, rallies and marches.
- Become an online animal rights advocate by sharing respectful, non-graphic, age-appropriate and factually-accurate news about animal rights campaigns.