Cape Town wants you to register most – but not all – of your pets, by law
- Though often unheeded, Cape Town has had compulsory registration of dogs and horses in place since 2011.
- Cats, and some other small animals, could now be included.
- Just where that line is draw remains to be seen.
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Although this may be news to most Capetonian pet owners, a Cape Town bylaw has required the registration of dogs and horses for nearly 10 years.
Now the days of special rules applying to cats and other small animal owners could be coming to an end, if a proposed animal-keeping policy becomes law.
The policy isn’t specific about what constitutes other "small" animals, so lizard, spider, and hamster owners will have to wait for the outcome of the consultation process to find out if their pets will fall into the group.
The City of Cape Town is updating its Animal Keeping Policy, in an effort to "provide guidance" to pet owners in terms of their duties as animal keepers. The policy is an effort to beef up the City's animal safety approach and has been endorsed by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).
The City is currently accepting comments on a Draft Animal Keeping Policy, which, if passed, would mean virtually all pet owners will need to register their animals.
According to the City’s current animal policy, all dogs and horses have to be registered with the City by the owner of the property, and there are limits on the number of animals generally, allowed on different kinds of premises. But cats do not have to be registered, unless the owners want to own more than the regulated number.
But under the proposed new policy, pet owners will need to register "all small and large animals, including dogs, cats and horses" with the City of Cape Town. Comments opened on 17 April and close on 17 May.
Registration takes place either online or at one of the City’s offices.
Registration of all pets, the City says, will help it to monitor animal populations, as well as gather data on pet keeping. This, in turn, will help the City carry out inspections to ensure that animals are kept responsibly. It will also help the City to reunite lost or stolen animals with their owners.
"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," reads the proposed policy.
Unregistered pets could end up being put up for adoption, sold, or euthanised, if their owners can’t be located, and contravening any of the City’s animal bylaws could result in a fine or a prison sentence of up to two years.
The new regulations, if implemented, would see additional, detailed duties placed on animal owners in terms of breeding, sterilisation, animal keeping, and the treatment of impounded animals. They will also place a duty on the City to keep detailed records of animals in Cape Town.
But while the proposed policy may seem overly stringent, it’s worth taking into account that the City of Cape Town already doesn’t allow its residents to keep any dog which causes a nuisance by chasing dogs, poultry, or even pigeons outside the property where it is kept, according to the existing bylaws.
It’s also frowned upon, legislatively-speaking, to keep a dog which "barks, yelps, howls or whines for more than six accumulated minutes in an hour", according to the animal keeping bylaw, in its current form.
Cape Town’s proposed policy isn’t entirely out of step with bylaws in other SA cities, although it is certainly more thorough.
The City of Johannesburg, like its Western Cape counterpart, limits the number of dogs and cats to be kept at a single dwelling unit to two, although the number of dogs and cats allowed increases with the size of the property. A permit is only required if you want to keep more dogs than the regulated number.
In Durban, the city council won't trouble you too much if you own domesticated animals, provided they don't pose a public health risk. You'll only need a permit to keep animals which could cause a public health problem, like sheep or pigs, in your home.
Belinda Abrahams, communications manager for the Cape of Good Hope SPCA, says pet registration has been a requirement since the Animal Bylaw was published, in August 2011.
"Registration allows for effective management of the process of rehoming of lost and stray animals, and the Cape of Good Hope supports this process," she said.
Abrahams said the Cape of Good Hope SPCA commends the City for "driving change in the interests of improving the welfare of animals via a collaborative policy process. This is a step in the right direction."