SPCA slams Manguang municipality for 'painful' treatment of police dogs
The SPCA in Bloemfontein is pursuing legal action against the Mangaung municipality after it was forced to put down five former police dogs that were found in a poor physical state.
The old police dogs had been kept at the municipality's department of law enforcement.
According to the SPCA, the dogs were kept in old, rusty, broken kennels. They were suffering from severe musculoskeletal problems and could barely move due to severe hip problems.
SPCA inspector Charmaine Engelbrecht described the condition of the kennels as shocking, adding that grass and bushes were growing against the enclosures.
“The cement slabs in between were cracked and chewed off, which caused a dangerous living environment for the dogs as the cement slabs could fall off and injure them," she said.
“The sleeping kennels were full of spiders, spiderwebs and patches of hair. We could also smell a nasty faecal odour in the air.”
She said the dogs were in excruciating pain. “The dogs had severe hip dysplasia. They couldn’t stand long as their hips were giving in. Their toenails were long and caused pain to the dogs when they would stand or walk.
"These dogs had broken, rotten teeth and they struggled to eat the hard pellets," she added, explaining that senior dogs like these usually struggled to eat as their teeth were in a bad condition and their jaws were no longer strong. They therefore required special food - but had only been given normal adult dog food, which was too hard for them.
"It was painful to see how these dogs struggled just to stand up ... You can see the pain in the dogs. They have lost so much muscle mass in their body.
"These dogs suffered unnecessarily."
Engelbrecht slammed the department for their treatment of the dogs.
"The department could at least have had a retirement plan for them - but never retired the dogs and instead just left them in the kennels," she said.
“No one groomed the dogs. One would expect the department's dogs to be well-groomed and kept. Imagine our shock when we saw five dogs that looked like they had never been groomed.
“According to the handlers, there is no disinfection or dipping plan in place. Once a day in the morning, they come in and spray water, give food and leave. If there is no disinfection plan, the dogs will obtain diseases.”
Based on the neglect the Bloemfontein SPCA discovered, they obtained a warrant to remove the dogs and took them to a veterinarian, who said the dogs were no longer fit for work.
“Consequently, and unfortunately, the dogs had to be humanely euthanised to end their suffering," said Engelbrecht.
Municipal spokesperson Qondile Khedama agreed that the kennels in which the dogs were kept needed maintenance.
"We agree that the metal requires a fresh coat of paint and that some kennel panels need to be repaired or replaced," he said.
"The dog kennels were cleaned daily but require some maintenance. The camouflage paint pattern of the metal in front of the kennels requires attention but did not in itself create a risk or threat to the dogs. No dogs were injured while kept in the kennels."
Khedama accepted blame for not grooming the dogs. "The lack of grooming of the dogs is indeed unacceptable and a concern. There are reasons why grooming was not performed in the last week. Equipment like brushes were provided to handlers but were due for replacement."
He added that the dogs had a "special" relationship with their handlers.
"The handlers interacted daily with the dogs in a manner not to cause stress. The dogs received food and fresh water daily. The relationship between the dogs and handlers was unique or special and played a role in why the dogs had not yet been put down."