SPCA PMB given R10,000 due to misleading Food Lovers Market poster

SPCA PMB given R10,000 due to misleading Food Lovers Market poster

Animal shelters are already under huge strain - no-one can adopt a cat or dog from them during lockdown and donations have slowed right down or stopped. And now people are dumping their pets on them believing - falsely - that animals can transmit the novel coronavirus. EISH!

Speaking to pets

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First it was a Spar “Coronavirus Disease” poster, which went up in Spar stores across the country. It advised: “Avoid contact with stray animals - cats, dogs, rodents, birds and bats”.

Then last week a franchised Food Lovers Market store in Scottsville Mall, Pietermaritzburg put up a poster which included under “Prevention” the advice: “Avoid contact with animals”, along with a cute image of a dog’s face.

The next day 30 people arrived at the Pietermaritzburg SPCA to hand over their dogs.

“At first I couldn’t understand why so many people wanted to get rid of their dogs, at the same time, until someone told me about the poster at Food Lovers,” said senior inspector and acting manager Roland Fivas.

One man handed over a seven-month-old Pitbull, saying he lived with his sickly mother and couldn’t take a chance. “This after I told him that the World Health The organization has put out a statement categorically stating that animals can’t transmit the virus,” Fivas said.

“Others dumped their dogs at our kennels that night, but we’d still rather people bring their pets to us than dump them somewhere else. Fueling the misinformation is the fact that dogs’ vaccination books feature the word “coronavirus”, but it’s a totally different coronavirus to this novel coronavirus, which has infected humans. In dogs it causes diarrhoea. Last Tuesday a man drove up to the SPCA, opened his car door and threw two adult cats before driving off.

“We chased him caught up with him and then gave him hell. Unfortunately, the cats disappeared; we have put food out in an attempt to catch them. The panic dumping has come at the worst possible time, as no animals can be fostered during lockdown. But no healthy animal will be euthanized during this period under my watch."

FLM’s group legal advisor, Mirella Gastaldi, said: “As Food Lover’s Market, we would like to express our strong disapproval of the advertisement created by Food Lover’s Market, Scottsville Mall – a franchised store.The contents expressly go against the views of the brand. In this instance the franchisee took out his own advertisement, bypassing our advertising agency and consequently not aligning with our national advertising or messaging.

"This matter has been escalated to our senior management team and the franchisee will be taken to task for his actions.

"In the meantime, we can confirm that the franchisee will be donating R10,000 to the Pietermaritzburg SPCA and place an apology in the local newspaper."

And the Spar Group has publicly apologised profusely for THAT poster.

“In an effort to protect our customers, we acted too hastily by adopting and translating communication from other countries dealing with the pandemic. It was factually incorrect. Animals have no connection with the spreading of the Covid-19 virus. The posters were hastily removed and the group promised to “make amends in whatever way we can mitigate the damage we have caused”.

Those amends included donating R4,000 to 79 SPCAs across the country,  R30,000 to the National Council of SPCAs, R20,000 to Randfontein-based animal welfare organisation Claw, R10,000 to the Have a Heart Equine Sanctuary in Bonnievale, and R30,000 to Wollies Animal Project in Pretoria - a total of R406,000.

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