The journey to adopting a pet

Don’t shop, adopt is the unofficial motto at the East London SPCA and kennel manager Melanie Fraser says they take the adoption process very seriously.

ANIMAL HELPERS: EL SPCA kennel manager Melanie Fraser, right, standing with general manager Sonja Slabbert during the construction of the cattery last year

While the SPCA has plenty of animals looking for a home – including dogs, cats, rabbits and even donkeys – they also make sure that the home they do send the animals to will take proper care of them.

The first step of the adoption process sees the potential new owners visit the SPCA to find an animal they want to take in.

“A person will come in, they will go through the kennels and catteries. The next step is to fill in an application form,” Fraser said.

In addition to names and addresses, this application form contains important information that the SPCA needs to consider.

“We ask important questions like ‘can you afford a private vet’,” she said.

“You can’t take an animal in and then just say it’s laying there with a broken leg but you don’t have any money to take it to a vet.”

Next, the SPCA inspects the property where the animal will be kept to make sure it is suitable for the animal being adopted.

“What we do require for every dog that leaves us is a fully enclosed property.

“For example, if you live in a townhouse and have a 1m boundary wall then you wouldn’t adopt a husky, but it would be perfect for something like a dachshund,” Fraser said.

“For a cat, obviously we don’t require that a property is fully fenced because a cat’s going to go where a cat’s going to go.

“We don’t like rabbits to be confined to a small hutch, they need space. Ideally you would have a hutch that you put them in at night or when it’s cold but they need access to space to run and stretch their legs.

“The property has to be secure because rabbits dig. People also need to be vigilant because rabbits are prey for other animals.”

One thing that people need to know is that if you take an animal home and it’s not fitting in well with your family, you may not hand it over to somebody else.

If the initial inspection goes well, the new owners then need to pay the adoption fee which covers mandatory sterilisation, vaccinations and deworming. The fees are R1,000 for dogs, R800 for cats and R550 for rabbits.

But just because you’ve now taken your furry friend home with you doesn’t mean the process is over yet.

“A while afterwards, they [SPCA inspector] will come and do an unannounced spot check just to make sure the animal is being taken care of and is fitting into the home,” Fraser said.

From then on, a follow-up inspection is conducted once a year.

“One thing that people need to know is that if you take an animal home and it’s not fitting in well with your family, you may not hand it over to somebody else. It has to come back to us,” she said.

For more information, contact the EL SPCA at 043-745-1441 or Also visit their Facebook page and website at


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