The Animal Welfare Society of South Africa (AWSSA) have uncovered several reports of alleged fraudsters operating as professional veterinarians in and around Cape Town.
Allan Perrins, spokesperson for AWSSA in Philippi says that some fraudsters appear unashamed, to an extent that they even advertise their businesses on social media.
Over the past few months, the animal welfare organisation have had to treat and humanely euthanize several dogs which were allegedly treated by individuals posing as veterinary practitioners.
Perrins is now calling on the public to be alert and to expose fake vets before more animals suffer and die.
He says recent cases for the organisation includes that of two dogs, one that was vaccinated by a suspected fraudster but then contracted the Parvo Virus, and another which was misdiagnosed and prescribed an ineffectual course of treatment.
The suspects in both cases are known to AWWSA who are currently investigating.
No charges have been laid with the police as yet, as the organisation awaits the outcome of a third party internal investigation, which has only just started.
Perrins says AWWSA will take the next step under advice, as soon as they get the outcome of the investigation and that the exposure of the suspects is forthcoming.
“These fraudsters represent a danger to our animal population. We have no intention of dropping the ball on this matter,” he explains.
“We are pleased to report that where we have alerted employers to suspected dodgy dealings, involving their employees, they have without exception acted swiftly and decisively.
“In the above cases where the owners lost their pets and money, they obviously felt aggrieved enough to say something in the hope that the authorities will intervene and that by them exposing these quacks other animals’ lives will be saved.”
He says there have always been ‘chancers’ in several communities across the Cape Flats, but the situation appears to have spiraled out of control, placing animals lives at risk.
“These seedy characters who operate ‘underground’ and who we strongly suspect obtain their drugs, medication and other supplies illegally, are costing many lives, but their businesses appear brisk and lucrative.
“These quacks we stringly suspect are the ‘go-to guys’ for dog fighters, backyard breeders and those wanting to have their dog’s ears cropped and tails docked. Both activities are strictly forbidden and are classified as animal mutilation.”
AWWSA suspect that whatever the fraudsters are unlawfully dispensing or selling, is stolen, and is therefore offered at a tempting discount.
“Their offering appears extensive and in many cases includes diagnosing and prescribing treatment. This is the preserve and remit of a qualified and registered veterinarian and is unlawful.
“They (fraudsters) operate covertly, often have multiple telephone numbers and always do house calls. They seldom leave any auditable trace and are only exposed when things go wrong.”
Perrins says there seems to be a proliferation of these individuals on the Cape Flats where they prey on vulnerable and naïve pet owners who think that they are getting a bargain.
“Some of the people we spoke to were oblivious to the fact that only a properly qualified and registered veterinarian is permitted by law to diagnose and prescribe treatment to an animal.
“Bone-fide veterinarians operate from registered practices and usually have their qualifications on display. Quacks always offer to visit and treat the pet at one’s home and demand cash only.
“We have been told that one can get anything from them – from a deworming tablet and vaccination to premium pet food and even replacement animals.”
“Quacks are in this for the money. The animals’ health, wellbeing, and life mean squat to them. They should be avoided at all costs, exposed, and charged.
“We appeal to the public to be our eyes and ears. We need their help to expose these rogues before more animals suffer and die,” adds Perrins.
To report any suspicions or matters concerning animals in your community, call AWSSA senior Inspector Mark Levendal on 021 692 2626. (Deen Times)