One need only look at the amount of views a cat video on Youtube racks up to realise how much people love animals. But, as much as we might love them, there are certain laws by which homeowners need to abide if they want to avoid running into trouble with the authorities.
“According to the Animal Protection Act of 1962, anyone who does not prescribe to the regulations set out by the Act and its by-laws may receive a penalty of up to a fine of R4,000, and could even face imprisonment for a period of twelve months. It is important to know the legal requirements of pet ownership in your city before you bring a pet into your home,” says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
Across all regions in South Africa, animal cruelty in terms of housing any animal is defined by the Act as: “affording inadequate shelter, light or ventilation in which such animal is excessively exposed to heat, cold, weather, sun, rain, dust exhaust gases or noxious fumes”. The act also specifies that “making adequate provision for suitable food, potable water and rest” for the animal is a minimum requirement for pet ownership.
It explicitly disallows an animal to be confined by “chains, tethers or secures [...] unnecessarily or [...] in such a manner as to cause that animal unnecessary suffering” in such a way that is described as cruelty above.
What does all of this mean for you as a pet owner? Well, for starters, it means that if your pet sleeps outside, then you need to provide adequate shelter for it. “There are various reasons for keeping pets outdoors. But, most kennels do not offer great protection against the elements. Building an awning and tucking the kennel into a corner underneath the roof is a great way to add an extra layer of protection against rain, wind, and sunshine. As a bonus, the addition also adds value onto your home,” explains Goslett.
The act also prevents you from keeping your pet tied up to a tree or any other tether for extended periods of time. “If you do have an energetic dog that you’d like to keep at bay when you have visitors over, then it is preferable to put up a fence that gives your pet enough space to run around in while you and your guests gather around the braai on the other side,” Goslett advises.
There is also a law that restricts the number of animals you are allowed to keep according to the type of property you own. Each region will have their own by-laws on this, but most subscribe to these restrictions to dogs over 6 months old: a maximum of two dogs are allowed to be kept in or at a dwelling unit (a sectional title); three dogs are allowed to be kept in or at a dwelling house (a freestanding property); four dogs are allowed to be kept in or at a large dwelling house (a property on a plot exceeding 600m2); and six dogs are allowed to be kept on an agricultural property. For cats, no more than four can be kept on any residential property, and no more than six can be kept on an agricultural property.
In the interest of public health and safety, if you want to keep a pet other than the usual suspects (cats, dogs, fish, birds, rodents), then you will need to receive a permit by the relevant city council before you are allowed to keep it in a residential area.
“The sad reality is that too many homeowners have been irresponsible pet owners, which has caused a large number of body corporates to rule against pet ownership in residential estates and complexes entirely. To make sure this decision doesn’t become a wider spread restriction, homeowners need to make the effort to abide by the laws set out by their local municipality and not allow their bad habits to prevent other responsible pet owners from keeping pets in their homes,” Goslett concludes.
Issued by RE/MAX of Southern Africa