Increasingly, science is realising that having a pet is good for people’s wellbeing. Studies have demonstrated that even just looking at pictures of dogs and cats can make people’s oxytocin levels increase!
There are thousands of people worldwide who can attest to the wellness and mental health benefits of being a pet parent during the pandemic enforced lockdowns. Animal shelters globally benefited from people adopting animals to isolate with! Then there are the physical health benefits: a dog requires regular exercise and taking Fido or Bella for a daily stroll or run can boost the owner’s fitness too. Research has also shown that children growing up in households with a pet have improved immune systems.
Animal Welfare Society of South Africa (AWS) spokesman Allan Perrins described the city’s move as “a triumph”.
While the sterilisation angle is obviously the one which grabbed the headlines, the amended by-law is comprehensive and provides a “clear guide to animal owners or caregivers, breeders of animals and the public at large, as to how to apply the duty to care principle to all animals within the city’s jurisdiction,” the city’s statement read.
“The city proposes a basic duty of care which animal owners will need to follow. This includes:
“All animals must have sufficient accommodation, food, water and shelter as per the animal keeping by-law and other relevant legislation as determined by the authorised official who may consult with animal welfare inspectors.
“Any form of animal cruelty, which includes but is not limited to, animal-fighting, neglect, frightening an animal, torture or violence towards an animal and neglect of animals, must be prohibited.
“An important aspect of developing an environment conducive to animal care is providing public spaces where animals can be exercised, such as free run public spaces for dogs and public spaces where horses are permitted to be ridden. These public spaces should be clearly signposted and must form part of the urban landscape.
“The locations of these public spaces should be communicated regularly via the city’s communication channels to the public.
“Dogs are otherwise required to be on leashes or under the control of owners, 18 years and above, in public places to avoid causing nuisance or danger to other residents.”
What many pet owners didn’t realise is that all pets are supposed to be registered with the city as well. “The permitting of small and large animals, including dogs, cats and horses, is compulsory, and the city will determine the format and process of registration. Registration may be done online via the city’s website or by submitting a registration form to a city office or as a part of a registration drive run by the city from time to time.”