Animal burials solution in sight

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SPCA manager Mark Thomas says he’s relieved that Makana Municipality have confirmed their willingness and ability to do animal burials at its landfill site.

Members of the public support the happy face of the SPCA – rescuing and rehabilitating animals and matching them with permanent homes. But it’s also the SPCA that gets called in to deal with grim situations – like when a donkey gets hit by a car in Beaufort Street and dies, or when a truck full of livestock overturns on a public road.

Thomas says having a way to dispose of dead animals had become a problem in recent months.

“The requirements for burying animals is very specific,” Thomas said. “They must be buried in a trench that is two metres deep, in soil that is clay based so that it that seals in biologicals.

“Lime must be put on top – that takes away the smell and starts the decomposition process.”

Above all, the burial must be done immediately.

“This was being done by the municipality,” Thomas said. “They had sectioned off an area at the tip.”

However, he said, at the end of a period when it had been a challenge to have the bulldozer up and running, or staff available to dig the trench, the SPCA had started taking animal bodies to other parts of the province for incineration.

This was unsustainable and this was the reason that last Friday, a digger was brought on to the SPCA premises to dig the two-metre-deep trench there.

“We checked the grounds and approached the municipality about our doing on-site burials as a temporary measure,” Thomas said.

The municipality had approved, he said, but it appeared no one was aware of the major water line running across the SPCA’s field at a depth of 1.8 metres. The digger struck it with the result that a large part of Grahamstown was without water for more than 48 hours.

“The line feeds from the high, low and intermediate reservoirs from Waainek,” Thomas said. He said they’d been told there was a second line traversing the field, but they weren’t sure where.

“There are no markers.”

Thomas said he had since had negotiations with the municipality, who had confirmed they would be able to do the animal burials.

Social Services Director Mandisi Planga confirmed Makana Municipality does undertake burials at the landfill site.

“The municipality buries animals who died of natural causes or as a result of accidents. Animals that we do not accept are those that died because of diseases.  If an animal dies of any disease it  needs to be incinerated . It cannot be taken to the landfill. The SPCA is aware of this,” the Director said in response to questions from Grocott’s Mail.

Thomas said that incineration would be their best option and that the SPCA had applied to have an incinerator. “It would be the most efficient, safest and environmentally friendly option.”

However early advice regarding an environmental impact assessment had indicated they were unlikely to receive a licence to operate one, because of the prevailing wind which would blow the smoke towards town.

The state vet in George street has the only licences incinerator in the area. However, while Thomas expressed frustration at not being able to access the service, veterinarian at the institution Gabriel Mutero said, incineration could be done “if the need arises”.

He said the state vet had the facility but it needed replacing. They had applied to the Department of Environmental Affairs for the necessary permissions and were waiting to hear from them.

The pipe break on the SPCA grounds left a large part of Grahamstown without water for more than 48 hours, as municipal staff struggled to obtain parts. Most people lost their supply on Friday night, and it returned late Sunday night or Monday morning.

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