Cape Town – A group of allegedly stolen dogs have been saved from smugglers after an amateur video was uploaded online.
The short clip, which was posted on social media, helped authorities track down and intercept a truck carrying four purebred dogs on their way to Angola, where they would most likely be used in fighting pits or cooped up in breeding pens.
When Chrystina Jacobson spotted a trailer loaded with the allegedly stolen dogs in Summer Greens, she didn’t hesitate to use her smart phone and start recording. “Not for one second did I believe that these were their dogs,” wrote Jacobson under the video.
The footage shows dogs forced into tiny boxes. The dogs are nervous, one is even foaming at the mouth. Cape of Good Hope SPCA chief executive Allan Perrins said later: “It had all the signs of another dog smuggler.”
Dog smuggling is a huge issue in South Africa. According to many organisations, such as the Animal Task Team, a national syndicate has been stealing purebred dogs from gardens and driveways in the country for over 20 years. The animals are sold in Angola, where dog smuggling is a lucrative trade and dogs can be auctioned off for as much as R20 000 each.
The Task Team estimated in 2012 that over 120 000 animals had been smuggled by the cartel since it began operating.
Perrins told the Cape Argus that after reviewing the footage the chances that the dogs were leaving the country legitimately, with a proper export permit, was small.
“The tiny sizes of the boxes they were squeezed into was worrying. That trip could take a couple of days, some of them could easily die on the way,” he said moments before police intercepted the vehicle.
Just three hours after the video was posted online, authorities, using information in the clip, flagged the vehicle down in Moorreesburg, a town about 90km north of Cape Town.
Animal Task Team leader Mariette Hopley said: “They had four dogs on the trailer. It looks like these are all dogs that come from homes and yes, we do suspect at this stage the dogs were going to Angola.”
She said they would post images of the dogs on the Task Team’s Facebook page for any owners looking for their missing pets to identify the animals. The dogs were set to be confiscated last night and taken to a kennel to be fed and treated.
“I absolutely want to thank the public, and particularly the woman who took the video for helping us.”
Earlier this year Hopley said the organisation was winning the war against dog smuggling.
“It’s all calmed down a bit: we do not have the large numbers of dogs crossing the borders that we saw (in 2012).”