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SPCAs do not give away animals. They do not sell animals. Animals are adopted from SPCAs. We are not playing word games by saying this, nor are we taking a leaf out of the politically correct book. There really is a difference.
Yet SPCAs battle to put this message across. Members of the public still make well-meaning approaches offering "to take a dog off your hands” or to advise, on hearing that there is a fee involved, that "I can pick one up free from an advertisement.”
Any responsible person would ensure that his or her animal was identified, dewormed, fully vaccinated, sterilised … the list goes on. There is a real cost involved which can be very high at prevailing retail rates. Either this is recognised as the actual cost of a "free” pet or clearly, the pet's welfare is being severely compromised from the start.
Ironically, all animals adopted from SPCAs are free. The adoption fee covers the cost of necessary procedures including vaccinations, sterilisation, dipping against ticks and fleas plus identification. Avoiding any of these procedures is irresponsible and, frankly, not putting the animal first. These are essential to the well-being of the animal.
The National Council of SPCAs took a quick survey amongst SPCAs to find out what they charged to adopt a dog. Fees vary, depending on whether the SPCA in question has an in-house veterinarian or whether the services of a private veterinarian in the area are used. Other slight variables can be seen, for example, whether microchip identification or a collar and tag system is used.
The December 2006 survey revealed that the adoption fee for a dog at SPCAs was around the R300 to R350 mark. Please note that ALL SPCA adoptions include sterilisation. This is mandatory and non-negotiable.
The prescribed rate (South African Veterinary Association) for the sterilisation of a medium-sized bitch is in excess of R1 000. (December 2006). The SPCA movement expresses appreciation to veterinarians who contract to or assist individual SPCAs in this regard.
It is noteworthy that an SPCA will always charge the full adoption fee. This is a principle to ensure that the value or worth of the animal is appreciated as well as to cover costs incurred.
When a member of the public starts arguing that a particular dog or cat came in as an already sterilised animal and that therefore a discount ought to be applicable on the adoption fee, warning bells start to ring. Haggling over a few Rands does not bode well in general terms. But a caring person with a heart for animals would surely appreciate that the few Rands difference would be well spent by the SPCA on the next pet to be sterilised, cared for or rescued.
If prices charged by back-yard breeders who sell animals through pet shops, at markets or through classified advertisements are considered, it becomes clear what good value is offered by SPCAs and what potential costs can and undoubtedly will be incurred when purchasing from other sources.
The frequently asked question, which follows, needs to be further addressed. "If SPCAs are so concerned about finding homes for animals instead of putting them down, why do you seem to discourage adoptions, not least because you charge so much?”
The officially adopted Statement of Policy of the SPCA movement is to: "discourage the keeping of domestic animals by those who do not have the facilities, time, financial means or level of interest necessary to ensure a satisfactory standard of care and husbandry for their pets.”
An inability to pay the adoption fee may be indicative of being unable to pay for quality food, veterinary fees or the general facilities required for the adequate keeping of an animal. It is a necessity for an SPCA to carry out a pre-home check before a dog is permitted to go to a new home. This is not red tape but an essential procedure to ensure that the home is adequately gated or fenced – and to check out the future facilities for the animal. SPCAs are very careful about the homes their animals go to. Criteria for adoption are stringent but they are in the interest of the animal.
Far too often, people come to an SPCA thinking that they can obtain a pet for nothing or virtually nothing, take home at once and use it to guard the property whilst they go on leave – the next day! It doesn't work like that. SPCAs put the welfare of the animal first. This means that no dog will be "homed” for safeguarding purposes and no security company, the SAPS, SANDF or Correctional Services may take an SPCA dog.
Issues taken into consideration before an animal can be adopted include any other animals on the property, any chaining or unreasonable confinement of animals on the property, the ages of any children plus the new owner's ability and willingness to give the animal the time and attention it will require. This ensures that no SPCA-adopted animal is victim to "We thought it would be OK but the dog killed the kitten last night,” or similar instances and incidents.
Page updated: 04/04/2013