Watch out for illegal pet hawkers

A resident in Upper Woodstock managed to get a picture of one of the illegal hawkers as he tried to sell a puppy on the street.

The SPCA has urged the public to report illegal puppy hawkers who have been spotted doing the rounds in Woodstock, trying to sell dehydrated and malnourished animals.

Charlene Adams was confronted recently by a man and woman trying to sell a weeks-old puppy outside her Woodstock home.
“The woman even asked me for some water for the puppy,” said Ms Adams. “It could hardly even look up to make a sound, but it looked very weak. It was extremely hot that day and you could see this pup was not doing well at all.”

Ms Adams went inside her house to get water for the puppy as well as her phone so she could take a picture of the suffering creature.

“When I returned, they were halfway down the road already and probably could sense that I was onto them.

“It’s disgusting that people would take a pet’s life for granted like that. One understands everybody is going through some kind of difficulty, but to put a life in danger like that is unacceptable.”

On another side of Woodstock, Ricardo Hansar chased a man who appeared at his door with three puppies wrapped in a towel.

The man at first asked for something to eat before opening the towel to reveal the puppies. He wanted R250 for each of them.

“I was actually shocked, because I noticed the towel on his arm but never thought there was anything alive moving around in it. I got extremely upset, as I have pets myself. I screamed at this guy and he started running. After chasing him down the road, he slipped into a service lane and disappeared,” Mr Hansar said.

He reported it to the SPCA.

“These guys don’t care about the well-being of the animal. It’s all a money-making effort, and if any of those pups should die, they will get dumped in a field or river, and these guys will move onto the next pup.”

In the last few weeks, pictures of the puppy sellers have appeared on social media along with calls for them to be apprehended.

SPCA spokeswoman Tara McGovern said it was a common practice. “Puppy hawkers have little or no regard for the welfare of animals, who to them are simply commodities of trade,” she said.

The puppy hawkers banked on animal lovers being willing to do anything to rescue a puppy in distress, regardless of the cost.

“Do not be emotionally blackmailed! In spite of your best intentions, buying a puppy from a hawker perpetuates a cycle of abuse and cruelty.

“These individuals are likely to be breeding indiscriminately, with no concern for their breeding females whose living conditions are comparable to puppy mills.

“In addition to this, puppies are often removed from their mothers extremely young, are often unhealthy and in some instances genetically defective,” Ms McGovern said.

Taking a live animal such as a puppy or a kitten away from its mother at a young age, she said, was an act of animal cruelty in terms of the Animal Protection Act 71 of 1962.

Ms McGovern said it was an unfortunate reality that offenders usually got off with a nominal fine because of the pressure on the country’s courts.

The best way to kill the illegal puppy trade, she said, was not to support it.

“In purchasing an animal from the street, one is creating a market.”

People looking for pets should rather consider adopting one at the SPCA, she said.

“We have healthy, loving puppies and adult dogs looking to become a part of a family like yours. You’ll find that while many are wonderful mix breeds, most shelters have pure-breds too.

“We are working in collaboration with law enforcement in order to stop the illegal hawking of animals and also looking into amendments of the animal by-laws in order to ensure harsher sentences for perpetrators.”

To report illegal hawkers or for more information, contact law enforcement at 021 812 4464 or the SPCA at 021 700 4158/9.

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