More than 100 Parkwood residents have signed a petition to ask the Cape of Good Hope SPCA for more frequent animal welfare services in the area.
Residents also want the SPCA to lower its veterinary fees.
However, the SPCA says providing primary veterinary care to disadvantaged pet owners is a priority, they follow a payment system based on owners’ income and will not turn away an animal in need of emergency treatment. It also said its mobile unit in Parkwood is back in service.
Max-John Swartz, a Parkwood resident and community worker, drew up the petition in hope of getting the attention of the welfare organisation.
Mr Swartz was a volunteer at the Cape of Good Hope SPCA in 2014 and 2015 and is starting a puppy-shelter in the area to treat wounded, abused and neglected dogs.
He said residents had complained about the high prices of treatments at the SPCA and claimed some had been turned away if they could not pay.
“Many people in Parkwood are poor but many have animals to take care of. There are especially many pensioners in the area who simply cannot afford to pay the amount that is charged by the SPCA for deworming, injections and other treatments,” said Mr Swartz.
“Animals play an important part in people’s lives and bring joy to people’s lives. There are also many stray animals in the area that need the help of the SPCA, but not much is being done,” said Mr Swartz.
He also said mobile services to Parkwood had stopped and many people could not afford to take their animals to the SPCA, on the corner of First Avenue and First Road, Grassy Park.
“There used to be a mobile service for the community of Parkwood once a week, but people do not know when this day is and are unsure of the times. Some weeks these services are not available. We want the SPCA to make these services available to Parkwood more frequently as well because there are many animlas in the area who are in need of their help,” he said.
Mr Swartz said he had previously tried to team up with the SPCA to run services from a school in the area.
“What I want to do is get some people together who can also carry out the services of the SPCA easier for residents to access. I want to help the animals as well as the people of Parkwood who only want the best for their animals but are not really able to afford proper services,” he said.
Residents Devon and and Cathy Thompson have three dogs they care for and say the prices charged by the SPCA are too high.
Both are unemployed, and when they need medical treatment for their animals, they are forced to use their children’s grant money.
“We love our animals, and we want the best for them, so we use from the little money we have to get them injections, deworming tablets everything else they need,” said Ms Thompson.
Another resident, pensioner Margeret van der Westerhuizen, said her dog needed surgery for a leg injury.
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“They told me it was going to cost over R2 000 for the surgery. I couldn’t afford to pay that amount. They said that I could make arrangement to pay the amount off. Eventually I had to borrow money from my daughter who lives with me to get the surgery for my dog,” said Ms Van der Westerhuizen.
“Provision should really be made for us pensioners who can’t afford to pay so much. We are already struggling to keep up with the little pension grant we get so a little more help from SPCA for our animals would be helpful,” he said.
SPCA Communication manager Belinda Abraham said that the facility follows a system to help them charge fairly for services based on owners’ combined household income.
“The huge demand on our resources has forced our society to more rigorously evaluate whether a client qualifies for subsidised treatment. If pet owners earn above a certain amount of money, we are legally required by the South African Veterinary Council to refer the individual to a private veterinary practice as our licence to operate is based on us serving welfare cases,” she said.
However, she adds that the SPCA will not turn away an animal in need of emergency treatment and as far as possible every effort is made to help animals and their owners.
“The Cape of Good Hope SPCA is committed to preventing the pain and suffering of animals and our hospital relies on public and corporate funding in order to do this. We cannot afford to provide veterinary care free of charge and owners are thus required to contribute towards the cost of treatment. These costs are heavily subsidised, the extent depending on household income,” she said.
She added that their payment system applied to pensioners as well.
Responding to claims that residents and their pets have previously been turned away from the centre because they cannot afford to pay, Ms Abrahams said the SPCA has a mandate to never turn any animals away.
“The very purpose of our society is to provide primary veterinary care to disadvantaged pet owners,” she said.
Ms Abrahams added that there are services in Parkwood.
“Our mobile unit is stationed in Parkwood at the Caltex Garage in Acacia Rd every Tuesday from 2pm to 3.30pm – but the person offereing these services has been off for a month – he is back and services will now continue,” she said.
She adds that other mobile services are available in other areas such as Capricorn, Coniston Park and Steenberg but has been withdrawn from Cafda because of a robbery at their mobile vehicle.
Services offered are done according to the needs of the community as well as avaibale resources.
Ms Abrahams also said that the facility is open to a meeting with Mr Swarts to discuss his concerns.