The low-down of SPCA animal adoption procedures

Empangeni SPCA Chairlady Cheryl Whittaker says that animal adoption is a serious commitment and that the SPCA nationally must ensure that certain procedures are followed

CONTRARY to popular belief, our SPCAs do not give animals away, nor do they sell animals.

‘There is an essential difference between adoption and the purchase of animals,’ said Empangeni SPCA Chairperson Cheryl Whittaker.

She shared the following frequently asked questions about the adoption procedure, which is closely monitored and applies to each SPCA under the National SPCA Animal Act.

Why do I have to pay for the animal I want to adopt?

The adoption fee covers the cost of necessary procedures, including vaccinations, sterilisation, dipping against ticks and fleas, plus identification.

‘SPCAs 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,’ said Whittaker.

SPCAs do not receive any income, grant or financial support from the government, and have to cover their own costs in the majority of cases.

The sterilisation operation is undertaken by a private veterinarian, and paid for by the SPCA.

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How much will I pay?

Adoption fees vary depending on vet fees, and whether microchip identification or a collar and tag system is used, to name a few.

The National Council of SPCAs undertook a snap survey to determine what each separate society charged to adopt a dog.

Adoption fees for dogs average around R700.

‘The sterilisation of male dogs can be in excess of R1 000 and spaying females can cost in excess of R2 000 at private vets,’ said Whittaker.

… and if the animal is already sterilised?

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 even rescued.

Doesn’t this cost discourage adoptions?

Whittaker says that if the prices charged by ‘backyard breeders’ who sell animals through pet shops, at markets or through advertisements are considered in this context, it becomes clear what good value is offered by SPCAs.

‘They are costs that will undoubtedly be incurred when purchasing animals from less savoury sources.’

What if I cannot afford the fee?

‘An inability or unwillingness to pay the adoption fee may be indicative of being unable or unwilling to pay for quality food, veterinary fees or the general facilities required for the adequate and responsible keeping of an animal,’ said Whittaker.

You would rather put the animal down than have it adopted?

‘The public still make approaches offering to ‘take a dog off your hands.

‘These are worrying value judgements and further enquiry plus education are recommended in such instances – including determining exactly why the person really wants a dog.’

What is a ‘home check’, and why is it necessary?

‘It is a legal requirement for an SPCA to carry out home checks or inspections before an animal adoption is approved.

‘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.

‘We are very careful about the homes our animals go to, and the criteria for adoption are stringent – but they are in the interest of the animal.’

Issues taken into consideration include matters relating to any other 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.

A ‘post-home’ inspection is also undertaken following the adoption.

Are there any exclusions?

‘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.

‘SPCAs put the welfare of the animal first,’ said Cheryl.

‘This means that no dog will be homed for safeguarding purposes, and no security company, nor the SAPS, SANDF or Correctional Services may adopt an SPCA animal.’

‘I feel like I’m getting the third degree…’

Adopting an animal is a huge responsibility, and this may include some probing questions.

People are asked to appreciate that it would be the absence of such questions that should cause alarm bells to ring.

Local SPCA contact details

Empangeni 071 1744746 (Emergency only 083 4823866)

Richards Bay 035 7532086 (Emergency only 073 5514564)


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Laurie Smith

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