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Metro again fails to pay SPCA
Deirdre Swift, chairperson of the Uitenhage & District SPCA, together with Blair, one of the dogs that is looking for a good caring home. Photo:HEILIE COMBRINCK

ONCE again the Uitenhage SPCA, which administers the municipal pound for roaming stock, has been left in the financial lurch by the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality.

Despite the contract and commitment between the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality and the Uitenhage & District SPCA; the local SPCA is owed R193 504 by the municipality.

Deirdre Swift, chairperson of the Uitenhage & District SPCA management board said, “It is mind-boggling and insane. The municipality owes us R68 044 (from April to July 2020) for bringing in and looking after strays to the small animal pound.

The livestock pound is closed, simply because the SPCA cannot afford to buy feed for livestock because of non-payment by the municipality.

“There are so many stray animals, domestic as well as livestock, roaming the area. We are aware that there is a huge problem with cattle in residential areas as well as on the roads. We are aware of accidents, people ending up in hospital and vehicles being damaged,” said Swift.

According to Swift, the SPCA has had to pay the salaries of the three pound employees since January, because the municipality did not pay their salaries as stipulated in the contract between the municipality and the SPCA.

This has placed additional financial strain on the society as there is no budget for extra salaries.

The unpaid salary amount owed to date is R125 460.

Adding to Deirdré Swift’s frustration is that since the Uitenhage SPCA has, with the easing of COVID-19 lockdown levels, opened the small animal pound for domestic animals, there has been no cooperation from the municipality’s Animal Control Unit, whose responsibility it is to bring in stray animals.

“Our office has gone crazy with all the calls from the public concerning stray animals. It is not our responsibility to bring them in. The municipal Animal Control Unit must do it, but they simply are not operational and indirectly make themselves guilty of animal cruelty.

“This is not fair; we get overrun with having to do the work for the municipality, who after refusing to assist the public, refers them to the SPCA.

“Owing to the SPCA’s mandate, if we are aware that there are animals in distress, we cannot turn a blind eye to it - we have to act in the best interest of the animals.

“Ironically those who, for six months received no salary from the municipality, are doing the work of those municipal employees who are receiving full salaries, but fail to perform their duties,” said Swift.

The Uitenhage SPCA has been operating on informal contracts since January 2019, whilst the association awaits the municipality to come forward with a formal, three-year service agreement contract. When the SPCA tender for administering the pound, they must provide operational costs and these costs are fixed for the duration of the contract.

“If for instance there is an increase in the price of fuel, we cannot claim the increased cost back, as these costs cannot be altered for the duration of the informal contract. With a formal contract we normally get granted a retainer fee, which would cover these increases as well commodity costs such as blankets, bowls and day to day health requirements for stray animals while in our care. Unfortunately, we haven’t had a formal contract since the end of 2018, and currently there is no mention of a retainer, which means service delivery and our financial position are compromised.”

An informal contract was once again awarded to the Uitenhage SPCA for a 12-month period on 18 August , which meant the pound could resume its duties.

Apart from not paying the SPCA salaries and pound fees, the municipality has also not, for more than two years, paid their portion of the SPCA’s electricity bill.

“Two years ago, this was picked up as the amount being charged to us was impossible for our usage.. I then realised that were carrying the bulk of the bill, whilst the municipality is not paying their portion as agreed upon in the contract. This matter has been repeatedly raised and asked to be rectified. Owing to not being addressed, our municipal bill is now in excess of R120 000 the bulk of which is owed by the municipality,” said Swift.

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