An animal-rights activist has urged the public not to put their heads in the sand when they witness animal abuse, after a Sun Valley man allegedly left his dog to die a slow and painful death.
Mandy Wilson claimed the man’s neighbours had known about the suffering animal, even commenting on a WhatsApp group about walking past it, but had done nothing.
It is illegal to deny an animal veterinary treatment, including euthanasia, if it is suffering and beyond help.
The dog died more than a month ago, but Ms Wilson said she had learnt recently from the SPCA it was dropping its investigation due to lack of evidence.
After someone sent Ms Wilson a picture of the dog on Monday March 18, she got to the house in time to see a neighbour putting a cloth over the animal. It died moments later.
“It was so emaciated. It could no longer walk,” Ms Wilson said.
She called the SPCA after leaving the premises. The Emma Animal Rescue Society (TEARS) had been at the house three days before the dog died, but, according to Tears operations manager, Mandy Store, the owner denied them entry, telling them he wanted his dog to die naturally as he did not believe in euthanasia.
Ms Store claimed the man had been verbally abusive to the team and had chased them from his property without letting them assess the animal.
Ms Store said Tears had reported the incident to the SPCA immediately after leaving.
Ms Wilson showed the Echo a screenshot of the message from the WhatsApp group, posted the day after the dog died. It says: “I walked past that poor dog every day. (It) had a huge growth tumour, and the reason I didn’t get involved is that I assumed the owners didn’t have the bucks to put him down, (and) they have two more dogs in the back garden? I have realised at the ripe old age not to judge other people (as) we don’t know (what) their situation is”
Ms Wilson said that message angered her because neighbours could have saved the dog unnecessary suffering.
Copies of the WhatsApp conversations were sent to Ms Wilson as she is not a member of the group.
Any shelter would have come to the dog’s aid if the neighbours had simply made a call, she said.
SPCA spokeswoman Belinda Abraham said they had gone out later on the day of the dog’s death but had found no sign of the animal. With no body or eyewitnesses prepared to make statements, pursuing the case would be a waste of resources, she said.
Denying an animal veterinary treatment – including euthanasia for one that is suffering and beyond help – was a crime under the Animals Protection Act and punishable by correctional supervision for a period determined by the court, imprisonment or a fine up to R60 000 for a district court, and R300 000 for a regional court.
Tears director Marilyn Hoole said animals had no voice so those who witnessed cruelty need to report it. And they could do so anonymously.
Anyone with information about this case or who is prepared to make a statement can call the SPCA at 021 700 4158/9. Animal cruelty can be reported to 021 700 4158/9 and to 083 326 1604 after hours.