The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) issue a joint media statement to proudly announce the signing of and commitment to a Memorandum of Understanding. It is believed that this level of cooperation between the military and an animal welfare organisation is unprecedented even internationally.
“The purpose of this Memorandum of Understanding is to recognise that both parties share a common interest in the care and welfare of animals used in the military and in the service of this country.” The ground-breaking document states that: –
The NSPCA recognises the SANDF mandate: – the necessity for the deployment of animals in providing security for our country. The SANDF recognises the NSPCA’s mandate to ensure that animals in the possession of the SANDF benefit from high quality care and responsible use. That no animal is compromised in the security of our country.
The agreement includes the 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 deployed to undertake such work.
The Memorandum of Understanding is far-reaching and long-term. It includes commitment to establishing an Animal Ethics Committee which will monitor, inspect and assess matters including the acquisition, transportation, housing, care and use of any military animals.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS) will be established in collaboration with the NSPCA, to be reviewed regularly and updated. The established procedures are aimed “to meet or exceed international or national animal care standards” and it will be compulsory for military personnel to adhere to them.
An undertaking is given to maintain what are known as “the 5 Freedoms” as listed below: –
Freedom from hunger and thirst: by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.
Freedom from discomfort: by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
Freedom from pain, injury or disease: by prevention through rapid diagnosis and treatment.
Freedom to express normal behaviour: by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
Freedom from fear and distress: by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.
Both parties feel that this agreement and mutual commitment to uphold it including in spirit, is a demonstration of how parties can accommodate one another for the common good and the benefit of animals.
South Africa can be proud!