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Monday Dec 10, 2012

Joburg animal haven forced to close over property zoning

The Kitty and Puppy Haven faces closure after 12 years, and hundreds of animals could be put down if homes are not found for them.

Samantha Berger, the owner of Kitty and Puppy Haven in Bramley, Johannesburg, with some of her charges.

The haven applied two years ago to rezone the property it is on for use as offices and a veterinary clinic.

However, the Joburg municipality stalled in making a decision on the application, and the animal shelter carried on operating.

In April, the council took the shelter to the high court because the use of the property was illegal and neighbours had complained.

The court ruled on August 31 that the haven could operate until December 12, when the rezoning application would be heard.

On Friday, the haven was ordered to close its doors by February 15.

Samantha Berger, who started the home, said the undue pressure was weighing on all concerned.

Most businesses would be closed until mid-January, leaving them with a few weeks to come up with a plan.

Berger said the least the council could do was to give the haven an extension or a piece of land.

Over the years, the home has turned into a haven for rescued animals.

The dogs and cats are socialised, vaccinated, sterilised, go for regular check-ups, eat high-quality food and live comfortable lives until they are either adopted or returned to their owners.

The sanctuary is based in Bramley and also acts as an animal clinic.

Just last week, 27 dogs from Soweto that were to be euthanised were rescued and taken into the haven.

"We help other welfare [organisations] where we can as well," Berger said.

Alexandra residents frequently use the clinic.

"A cat that had broken its legs in an accident was brought here and the owner could only give us R20 to help it. We spent over R2 000 on the animal. All we ask is that [animal owners] give us what they can, and we do the rest," said Berger.

Berger said they had spent more than R2 million on the haven in the 12 years of its existence.

It cost R120 000 a month to keep the haven running and about 1 500 animals came through the doors every year.

"We can't move just anywhere because we have a whole community that is relying on us," said Berger.

Anyone interested in adopting an animal can call the haven on 011 440 9486/2404.

The Star

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