KNYSNA NEWS - When a video depicting the "mistreatment" of dog carcasses by Knysna Animal Welfare Society (Kaws) workers spread through the Garden Route's social media pages recently, animal lovers were up in arms. Most commenters focused on the manner in which the carcasses were handled and Kaws employees were widely criticised.
Kaws, however, maintains that what such detractors – including the Mossel Bay Facebook user who initially posted the video without contacting Kaws – might not have thought of is that the images depicted are just the tip of the practically insurmountable iceberg for those who try their very best to assist the community and its loved and forgotten animals.
To live a day in one of these workers' shoes is something Kaws general manager Annelien Kitley would not wish on anyone.
On a daily basis, she says, Kaws needs to worry about where their next load of pet food will come from, whether they have enough space for sick animals, and which of the many healthy animals, including babies, will have to be put down as, legally, Kaws cannot have more than 60 animals on their premises at a given time. Then there is the recent distemper epidemic that hit Knysna to deal with as well.
"Imagine that you are faced with countless healthy, beautiful animals that could easily be adopted, but because of the lack of space to house these animals, you have to decide which ones to put down since you already have a number of animals still awaiting adoption," Kitley says. "Then we still have to bury them – our inspectors go through this emotional turmoil daily, weekly, monthly."
In total, Kaws has had to euthanase more than 1 400 animals this year due to illness (including distemper cases since March), owners not claiming their stray pets, residents surrendering their pets, and the lack of space.
'Freezers are full'
And now, according to Kitley, another worry has been added to their already overburdened plate as there is no more space for Kaws to bury the animals due to the negative media attention the video received. Following the reports, the municipality informed Kaws they have to close the burial site, she says, adding, "Our freezers are full and we have had to start turning sick animals away."
Kitley says they have explored a number of alternatives to solve the issue – together with the municipality – but that none has borne fruit so far. There are very few sites in the Garden Route that are legally allowed to accept animal burials.
What bothers Kitley most about the video is that the person who uploaded it onto Facebook did not contact Kaws to raise the issue with them, and she says the grave was dug up so that the person could take the photos. "All the person did was create sensation, ruin some of the good work we do and leave us unable to accept and euthanase ill and diseased animals, therefore leaving these animals to suffer further," says Kitley.
Knysna-Plett Herald was unable to track down the person in question at the time of going to print.
The municipality says, regarding the burial space, that its solid waste department has commenced with the supply chain process to find a suitable candidate to provide these services on behalf of the municipality. No timeframe was given in its response to Knysna-Plett Herald.
Can you help?
On the day of Knysna Plett-Herald's visit at Kaws, on 20 September, the organisation's extremely urgent need was evident when Kitley opened their storeroom to show the few bags of pet food left. Kaws is appealing to the community to donate funds or food by contacting 044 384 1603.
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