I have become aware of a (very tame and friendly) Pitbull...

Asked by jeanne wegner on 11-06-2019 09:53:32
Question posted in the General Law category relating to Western Cape
Question value: R 200.00

I have become aware of a (very tame and friendly) Pitbull dog who lives 24/7 chained to a concrete slab on a pavement in a run-down, semi-industrial area of Cape Town. The SPCA has several open cases of complaints but cannot act since the dog has a kennel, food and water, and technically their hands are tied.QUESTION: if the dog is not kept on private property as required by law, then can it be classified Stray, and am I entitled to take it and home it, even though I am aware that the dog has an owner who lives in rooms near the sidewalk (and who himself claims to have 'adopted' the dog from a 3rd party).If the answer to above is No, then is there another law which we can use to remove the dog without the owners' consent?I have referenced the CITY OF CAPE TOWN ANIMAL BY-LAW OF 2010 and it appears there may be several legal grounds to remove the dog, even though the owner has circumvented SPCA requirements.

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Answer to the Question

Posted by Att. Patrick on 11-06-2019 10:53:54

Hi there and thank you for your question,

No, if you know that the dog has an owner then you can't just assume that it is a stray and adopt it yourself. The dog belongs to somebody, and if you were to remove the dog that would constitute theft. You can see that regulation 7(1)(d) enables an official to remove the dog if it apparently doesn't have an owner.

You can only remove the dog if the dog is being abused by the owner. Typically, there would be a complaint made to either the SAPS or the SPCA and they would act in accordance with their mandate. The SAPS could act because the abuse would constitute animal abuse, and the owner could be arrested. The SPCA could act on similar grounds.

BUT, as you said, the SPCA's hands are tied if there is no abuse and if the dog is being fed and looked after... even if it is a sad situation.

The regulations do make provision for an official to remove the dog (see regulation 7(1)) but there are limited grounds here. e.g. starved, under-fed, hazard to traffic, infectious disease, etc.

If you want somebody to act in accordance with the regulations, you're going to have to lay a complaint with the City of Cape Town. They will need to send an authorised official to investigate and make a decision. The official would be entitled to act because of the powers in the Animal Protection Act, 1962.

If you decide to go this route, my suggestion is that you tailor your complaint to the City of Cape Town with specific references to the regulations, and even specific sub-sections. 

I am a practicing attorney based in South Africa and I will assist you with your question. Please feel free to ask as many follow up questions in order to clarify your question. If you have a new question, you must please open a new thread.

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Att. Patrick

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This answer was accepted on 11-06-2019 12:01:13

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