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Friday, July 10, 2009

Neglected pet cemetery is a source of ‘food’ for the desperately poor

For several years the City of Bulawayo has been without a crematorium.
However thanks to the endeavours of a number of valiant citizens, we now have a fully functioning crematorium. It was handed over to the City of Bulawayo with great pomp and ceremony some weeks ago, but because of internal municipal bickering it is not yet operational.
Sadly the initiator of the whole crematorium refurbishment plan was unable to avail her family of the service to lay a loved one to rest, due to unnecessary delays by the City Fathers !!
But if we worried about the disposal of our human remains, we also need to look long and hard at the disposal of our pets and animals.
It was Mahatma Ghandi who said “The greatness of a nation and it’s moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”. A visit to the Municipal site where our pet dogs and cats are supposedly “buried” in dignity and peace, left me as to no doubt as to our “moral progress” as a Nation.
We are told that the carcasses are burnt or buried; in days gone by trenches were dug, lime was applied and the “grave” was covered over with soil.
Not so any more! If your beloved pet dies, make sure you make your own burial arrangements, for your own peace of mind!
I was certainly not prepared for what I saw at the Municipal area on Magazine Road: apart from mounds of trash, garden refuse and the like, the final resting place for thousands of pets over the years is a vast stinking cesspool.
There are bones, skulls and entrails scattered far and wide. Great swarms of flies hover over mounds of coal dust. Nothing is buried I promise you: the animal is dumped and a scattering of ash and soil is applied thinly: no lime, no hole, no nothing.
Euthanasia costs R500 and “disposal” costs R70.00 according to a local vet’s assistant who was “not quite sure” what happened to the remains of Tshaka or Tiggy or Spot!
Horrifyingly, this pet-graveyard also revealed to me a very despairing side of the on-going desperate poverty in our country. A worker at the site tells of people who wait until dusk and then uplift the animals. If its a big dog, they take the meat and sell it. If the pet is in a plastic sack or bag, the carcass is dumped out and the bag retained to be sold or re-used. The health consequences of these desperate actions are huge.
There are little skulls and big skulls, little teeth and big teeth, little bones and big bones, scattered around as far as the eye can see. Crows circle overhead, the stench is horrendous, and it seems that we have all turned yet another blind-eye to yet another travesty in our community. To some it may seem sentimental, but in my opinion, the animals that share our lives and help get us through our hard times are also a part of our community and deserve better treatment than this!

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