The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) says a shocking 10 to 15 dogs are stolen in Windhoek alone each week and in some cases the pets are stolen for the pot, causing untold anguish to pet lovers, as some people regard dog as a delicacy.
According to the SPCA, more and more dogs are reported missing on a daily basis and this has become evident, as street corners and shopping centres around Windhoek are full of posters offering rewards for the safe return of missing dogs.
General manager of SPCA Sylvia Breitenstein told New Era that on average 10 to 15 dogs go missing every week, suggesting that around 720 dogs go missing every year.
“Then you must add a percentage of those who do not report at all and those who only post it on Facebook,” Breitenstein added.
She said the SPCA deals with cases of dog theft every day.
Although there are more aspects to dog theft than the organised stealing of dogs, Breitenstein emphasised that some members of the public just “take these dogs” that go missing to their homes, without realising they are stealing.
She said some of the dog thieves target dogs to slaughter for own consumption, while some are in the habit of stealing certain breeds to be used for dog fighting and yet others steal because they think the dog will make them look good in front of their friends.
Although there is no statistical data available on the consumption of dog meat in Namibia, many people commonly eat dog meat.
In the northern parts of the country and in some parts of the world, like China and the Koreas, dog meat is considered a delicacy.
With inflation rising and the economy going to the dogs the other aspect of dog theft is the “organised stealing of pets” for resale, as destitute people try to ease their hardship.
Then there are the street kids who steal dogs purely to sell for income.
Breitenstein said there are no peak periods for dog theft, although the disappearance of dogs seem to be happening in waves.
“By that I mean it is quiet for a while and then all of a sudden there are many reports,” said Breitenstein, noting that the reports do seem to correlate to puppy seasons (when there are more puppies around).
“All different breeds are disappearing… even cross-breeds. That is where my assumption comes in that people unknowingly just take dogs,” said Breitenstein.
The SPCA monitors cruelty to animals. The society tries to educate people on the proper treatment of pets, but in case of maltreatment of a pet, a charge may be laid against an individual who is suspected to be mistreating an animal.
The SPCA in Windhoek also acts as the municipal pound, which means they take in stray animals in the City of Windhoek.
In addition they re-house pets that are taken in and provide boarding facilities for the pets during holidays.
All pets and animals in Namibia are protected under the Animal Protection Act of 1962.
Persons found guilty of animal abuse can be charged and prosecuted.
Dog lover… An unidentified woman carries her dogs to a veterinarian for vaccination. Photo for illustration purposes only.