Cops snarl at charity's offer
The Durban metro police dog unit recently spurned donations of food, shampoos and treats for its four-footed crime fighters, but the South African Police Service in KwaZulu-Natal is appealing for dogs to be donated. Provincial police spokesman Major Thulani Zwane said at least 26 dogs were needed to partner K9 unit officers."The public can donate German shepherds or Rottweilers between one and two years old," he said."The SAPS purchases from breeders only after the dog is a year old. There is a shortage of these dogs throughout the country."The dogs and their handlers are trained to apprehend fleeing suspects, search buildings, undergrowth and disaster sites, and track criminals.However, a Durban charity, Feeding the Furballs, said yesterday it wanted nothing further to do with the police after the Durban dog unit rejected its offer of donated dog food, deworming medication, animal shampoos and treats."I now understand why some people are so afraid of the police. It was an unpleasant experience and I don't want ever to repeat it," said the organisation's chairman, Farrah Maharajh.In response to media reports that the unit was plagued by shortages of dog food and shampoo, and that a large proportion of the K9 dogs had not been inoculated because of outstanding vet bills, Maharajh said she took donated goods worth thousands of rands to the unit on Monday."We were told that there was a standing order not to accept anything from the public."We explained that we were a registered organisation and that if they did not want to accept the food, they should at least accept the bowls and toys, but they refused."Maharajh said an instructor had told her to leave the unit's premises, claiming that media reports of shortages and unpaid vets' bills were "lies".But she had received complaints from police dog handlers who said that they had had to buy shampoo and medication out of their own pockets."It is a sorry state of affairs. We tried to help them but they don't want help."Maharajh said Feeding the Furballs would consider redistributing the donations, made by manufacturers and the public."We would rather offer our assistance to another unit that will be grateful that we want to help and thank the dogs for their work in apprehending criminals," she said.She would not take the refusal of the donations up with Durban metro police management because she would "rather not have anything to do with the unit ever again".eThekwini municipal spokesman Tozi Mthethwa could not be reached yesterday for a response from the unit.Last week, Mthethwa said the municipality would deal with the claims made in media reports."Metro police dogs are an important part of the metro police family and all efforts are being made to ensure that their care is of an acceptable standard," she said.