Studies have proven time and again that children growing up with pets get a much healthier start on life and have a better chance at becoming well-rounded individuals with good moral values. Here are some of the benefits of adding an animal to a family: children are mentally and physically healthier (decreased risk of asthma, eczema, enhanced immune system and less frequent opportunistic infections), develop social skills such as empathy and sense of responsibility, enjoy their pets’ companionship while getting better at creating friendship with other kids, have a better self-esteem and perform well at school.
Now you have just arrived in Gaborone and have heard everything and its contrary: Gaborone is safe yet you should have an aggressive guard dog, you can get dogs but won’t manage to leave Botswana with them, there are so many diseases in Africa that dogs cost a lot at the vet and have a short lifespan, pets can transmit diseases to your children…
Well let’s put a few things in order so that you can choose the most adapted dog for your situation and decide for yourself!
Adopting a Dog from the Botswana SPCA
The BSPCA is the only animal shelter in Botswana and they really do a sterling job of looking after animals within their meagre budget, and that’s worth supporting!
They receive no help from government or any international association, all their funding come from private and corporate donations and sponsoring, fundraising events (like the much loved weekly coffee shop Bark and Bite, or the annual Golf day and Wiggle-Waggle), and selling of quality second-hand items at their huge book store at the shelter or at the charity shop currently situated in Kgale Mall (so if you ever need to donate clothes, books, cutlery, toys, everything really, or you are looking at buying at very low rate, that’s the place!).
They always welcome volunteers either at the charity shop or bookstore to sell, or at the shelter to walk dogs and spend time with puppies and kittens, or as a committee member should want to be a driving force in the fight against animal cruelty in Botswana.
With this bit of background, that results in over 100 dogs and a dozen puppies and 40 cats and a dozen kittens looking for good homes at any given time. You can pretty much find any shape, size, colour, gender and personality you seek in your pet, from pavement specials to pure breed dogs like labradors, german shepherd, boerbulls, maltese and Jack Russell Terriers amongst others (abuse and negligence don’t discriminate!).
The staff knows all the animals there well and can advise you on a good family dog, a good alarm dog, and other traits you may seek. You are encouraged to come with your whole family and potential other pets for a full meet-and-greet in a neutral run to see how everyone interact.
Most dogs adopted from BSPCA combine great qualities: they are selected on arrival on their friendly nature, they usually have a strong disease resistance as they are cross-breeds that have adapted over generations to local pathogens, and once well looked-after make excellent guard dogs.
All animals come vaccinated, sterilised and well socialised with other animals and people. The adoption fee is P750 for a puppy or dog and P300 for a kitten or cat (which is much less than what it would cost you to get all this care done at a private vet clinic), and a home inspection is conducted to make sure your house is properly fenced, that there is adequate shelter, water and food awaiting your new companion.
Should you be reluctant to adopt an animal because you are here for a few years’ contract, there are many lovely golden oldies at the shelter who would love nothing more than a few years of happiness before their last breath, as many of them have been bred their whole life and surrendered at the shelter once they couldn’t produce offspring any longer.
In short, you are strongly encouraged to pass by the shelter shortly after your arrival with your family, enjoy a lovely homemade cake and tea at the Bark and Bite, let the kids play in the kiddies playground or kittens enclosure, browse through the millions of great books at the book store, walk a few dogs who always enjoy a bit of leg stretching, and who knows… maybe find the perfect companion(s?) for your home?!
Buying a Puppy From a Breeder
Should you want a specific breed puppy, be aware that there is no proper kennel association in Botswana like in other countries where they regularly conduct animal welfare inspection of breeders and run genetic tests to keep breed lines free of genetic disorders, so inbreeding and unsanitary breeding facilities are sadly quite common here.
If you really want to buy a puppy, make sure you demand to see both parents and their temperament, that the puppy is at least 8 weeks of age to be fully weaned, and that vaccinations are up to date with a veterinary certificate to back it up.
As heartbreaking as it is, refrain from buying puppies sold on parking lots or on the side of the road because you feel so sorry for them, as you’d be fuelling a puppy mill industry where dogs are bred in the most awful conditions to make a quick buck without any consideration for their welfare.
Remember that good breeders are more interested in the quality and health of the breed than in making a profit, and wouldn’t mate animals that are related to each other or kept chained or in unsanitary conditions.
Finally, note that the following breeds are subjected to strict import control in Europe and might not be allowed back with you: Boerbull type, Pitbull type, Rottweiler, Bull Mastiff, American Staffordshire Terriers, so just bear this in mind if one day you’d like to take your new family member overseas.
This post has been provided by Laetitia at Matshwane Vet Clinic.
House calls and consultations on appointment for large and small animals.
Tel : +267 7624 7062
Near the Oasis Motel, Sefoke Road, Tlokweng, Gaborone
Po Box 18ACJ, Postnet Kgale, Gaborone, Botswana