By Vanessa Papas people Has Heart: Moved by the plight of destitute animals in South Africa? Sterilisation for your pet starts a chain reaction and puts a stop to the thousands of animals left alone to roam the streets, live in municipal dump sites and rescue shelters. It’s a giant leap towards changing the fate of lives that would otherwise be seen as insignificant or cut short because the reality is, there are just too many animals and not enough homes.
Did you know that just one unaltered female dog and her offspring can produce 67 000 puppies in only six years, or that in seven years, one female cat and her offspring can produce an incredible 370 000 kittens? In addition to the overpopulation of animals, there are a host of medical reasons why spaying and neutering just makes sense from eliminating the risk of certain cancers and contagious diseases to reducing aggression and urine marking.
Animal Birth Control (ABC Steris) is an organisation with a core mission to greatly reduce the number of animals who die every day due to over-population and the other horrendous health risks and associated cruelties that befall unsterilised dogs and cats. To date, the ABC Steri Team has sterilised close to 1000 animals owned by low income families that could otherwise not afford to have their pet spayed or neutered. This equates to hundreds of thousands of offspring – puppies and kittens that would have been born in South Africa never to find loving homes.
Ann Martin, Director of ABC Steris, has been involved in Animal Welfare and Rescue and Rights for over three decades.
“After working at the Society for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty (SPCA) myself anda small team started ABC. At first met with many challenges – finding dynamic vet to assist at crazy rates, locating a suitable venue, rallying volunteers, and spreading awareness – ABC is today well-known in the work we do in assisting disadvantaged families in having their pets sterilised,” says Ann. “We use veterinarian surgeon Dr Michele Miller’s clinic in Alberton to do the steris while we look for another venue further East. Dr Michele is accredited by SAVC as a Sterilisation Campaign Veterinarian.”
Ann explains spay and neuter surgeries are the most commonly performed animal surgeries. Most animals experience relatively little discomfort (anaesthesia is used during surgery, and pain medication is generally given afterward) and are back to their normal activities within a day or two. At ABC the sterilisation process of dogs is strictly monitored to ensure the health and safety of each and every animal. Dogs are brought in at staggered times, are registered and weighed. They are then labelled (for surgery identification) and are put into housing cages to await premed. Once drowsy, anaesthetic is administered, and then through to prepping for surgery. In prep, they are shaved and washed thoroughly (only the surgery site). Sprayed with disinfectant and placed on operating table for spay and neuter. Once the op is done they again get cleaned and dried, a reversal is administered and they go back into their cages with hot water bottles and blankets. As soon as they are fully awake, their owners get sent a sms to collect them. All animals go home with pain meds, after care instructions and vet certificates.
“Between 24 February and 18 December 2016, ABC has sterilised 980 animals who would otherwise have contributed to the overpopulation problem,” says Ann. “We assist the lower income group and pensioners to sterilise their animals. The cost is currently R300 per cat and R550 per dog. In certain cases we subsidise these sterilisations by means of donations. We do also insist that the owners have to pay something towards their pet steris, so as to take some sort of responsibility for their pets, and not just get freebies. We have through making contacts with other vets been able to successfully sterilise animals in Rustenburg, Middelburg, and also Soweto.”
One of ABC’s main goal for 2017 is to acquire a mobile clinic, which they can then utilise to get to outlying areas to do sterilisations as the need is even more dire in these areas. “We have in the interim purchased an old luggage trailer, of which a sponsor has come forward and offered to check it mechanically, sand it down completely and respray it white. This will house all the equipment needed for doing outreach steris. We have since inception, acquired two operating tables, an aesthetic machine, a portable light, an animal scale, hot water bottles, blankets, two gas heaters, and a rather nice sturdy gazebo,” explains Ann. “The main need for now would be a small generator to operate the light, and collapsible cages for keeping the animals safe until they are awake from aesthetic. Having a fully integrated mobile clinic is critical in reaching more animals because it allows for a turnkey process to continually support pet owners in low income areas who are without transport by providing low cost pet sterilisations.
Pay It Forward
In addition to assisting with a mobile sterilisation unit, you can help ABC by spreading the word about the importance of sterilising, not supporting backyard puppy mills, breeders, or pet shops that sell live animals, or by sponsoring a sterilisations or donating towards one. Banking Details are Account Name: ABC Steris, Bank: Capitec, Branch number 1483290067, Branch Code 470010. For assistance with low cost spay and neuter contact Ann between 08h00 and 10h00 weekdays for info and bookings on 082 909 5612 or [email protected] Log onto www.facebook.com/abcsteri/ or www.abcsteri.co.za for more information.