New deal safeguards military animals

Johannesburg - The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) issued a joint statement on Monday that will allow the animal welfare organisation unprecedented access to all military service animals.

Bryce Marock, a veterinarian at the NSPCA, said the agreement would ensure a more formalised process of welfare monitoring and cut out some of the red tap previously experienced.

“This is a great thing. As the NSPCA, we recognise that the SANDF is an external body with locations that are national key points that have protocols. We in turn strive to ensure the protection of the animals and the NSPCA has a legal mandate to ensure every animal is always protected.”

The welfare body already has similar agreements in place with SAPS, metro police, SA revenue services, the prisons authority and private sector security companies. Marock said routine and even random checks could now take place.

“We understand the sensitivity of the SANDF bases as being national key points and that often information needs to remain confidential. But we are pleased that now we have a formal mandate to carry out inspections,” said Marock.

He said they would be focusing on horses and service dogs but would extend their care-work to wild animals found on bases, such as feral donkeys.

The agreement includes an undertaking that the SANDF “shall permit only NSPCA Inspectors to inspect all SANDF locations where military animals are held, deployed or receive medical attention”. Reciprocal protocols include the NSPCA undertaking that only Senior NSPCA Inspectors will be sent to undertake the site visits.

Marock said the NSPCA understood the necessity for the deployment of animals in providing security for our country. The newly signed agreement ensured that the SANDF recognised the NSPCA’s mandate to ensure that animals in the possession of the SANDF benefit from high quality care and responsible use. He said no animal should be compromised in the security of our country.

The Memorandum of Understanding is far-reaching and long-term and includes a commitment to establishing an Animal Ethics Committee. It will also monitor, inspect and assess matters including the acquisition, transportation, housing, care and use of any military animals. Marock said it the document had taken a few years to formulate and was thought to be a first internationally.

Photo Security dogs are exercised by members of the SANDF. File picture: Chris Collingridge.Credit: INDEPENDENT MEDIA

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