More bite to Animal Act, say lawyers

Durban – A band of attorneys who uphold the law by day and save animals at night are hoping to reform the Animal Protection Act to better hold abusers to account.

Tashya Giyapersad, a Durban attorney and animal activist, has joined law expert Professor Tammy Cohen and other attorneys to make submissions to the Law Reform Commission of South Africa which undertakes research into developing the country’s justice system.

“We want the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) to be able to empower prosecution in all cases of abuse regardless of the circumstances. No legal action has thus far been taken against those who’ve left a countless number of dogs for dead on the streets, and we want to change that,” she said.

While the current act allows for prosecution, Giyapersad said this was not strictly enforced and reforms would make prosecution automatic, similar to cases of child abuse.

Jeannie Pederson, a member of the Humans for Animals rescue organisation based north of Tongaat, on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast, was unable to open charges in a recent rescue case.

Pederson rescued an injured dog, Warrior, which was limping on a Tongaat road. The dog had been trying to follow two others.

“He was traumatised, had been stabbed and had bite marks all over his body. We believe he was used as a
bait dog.”

A bait dog is used by illegal canine-fighters to aggravate fighting dogs’ lust for blood. Dogs are kidnapped, bought for as little as R30 and abused as fighting dogs learn to attack. Dog-fighting is rampant across the country with big betting stakes involved.

Warrior has recovered from his injuries and trauma and Pederson is searching for a home for him.

She was unable to hunt down Warrior’s abusers and could not open a criminal case.

Giyapersad and her team have set the ball rolling and submissions are expected to be made next year.

Meanwhile, the SPCA Kloof and Upper Highway spokesperson Barbara Patrick said animal abuse cases were on the rise across Durban, especially during the festive season.

“Report animal abuse cases to your local SPCA, take photos, videos and statements from witnesses as evidence. If an animal is stranded on a roadside and may disappear or run into traffic before the SPCA can get there, try to rescue the animal but only if your safety is assured.”

SUNDAY TRIBUNE

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