Fires and animal safety

Tara McGovern , Cape of Good Hope SPCA

The volatile fires spreading across the Somerset West and Helderberg mountain region saw Cape of Good Hope SPCA inspectors rally alongside disaster management in order to assist with animal evacuations from late last night into the early hours of this morning.

Dangerous conditions saw homeowners having to leave their homes, and in some cases their animals, as they sought safety from the flames threatening to engulf their properties.

SPCA Wildlife Unit manager Janet van der Vyver coordinated a rescue and relocation operation across Sir Lowry’s Pass and neighbouring farm estates to move farm animals, equines and pets to safety.

The fire was out of control when they arrived close to midnight and had already burned some properties to the ground.

Their foremost objective was to ensure they could assist as many animals as possible and remove them from imminent danger.

Inspector Theo Arendorf and trainee inspector Minette Pieterse were tasked with locating and removing dogs and cats in danger of excessive smoke inhalation or death.

Ms Pieterse says that the intense smoke and heat made it almost impossible to see ahead as they searched for animals in distress, however, they were able to assist with getting 11 cats and five dogs to safety and, moving another 15 dogs to a local animal shelter to recover from their ordeal.

Farm animals were at particularly high risk, as they are generally trapped within stables or paddocks, but thanks to the dedicated efforts of all the rescue teams on standby, many were moved to safety away from the flames.

Three horses, 32 sheep and three pigs were safely evacuated by the SPCA team.

The situation is currently contained, but the SPCA and many other animal welfare organisations and animal-loving individuals remain on standby in the event of flare-ups.

To ensure that rescue efforts are efficiently and strategically planned, the
Cape Animal Welfare Forum will be fielding calls regarding injured, displaced or distressed victims of the fires.

Please call Veronica Nel on 083 ;642 2805 to report any fire-related incidents.

This will ensure that we can co-ordinate our rescue efforts in a way that will ensure the quickest possible response to an animal in need.