Tuesday, 14 July 2009 12:41

"Free to good home" pets

Please see the article below which demonstrates why people should not advertise "free to good home." You may wish to keep a copy to illustrate why we take the stance we do and to advise people that if they are giving up a pet, giving it to the SPCA is the best option.

Animal welfare organisations in Port Elizabeth fear that notorious murderer and former psychiatric patient Trevor Nel has launched a “front company” that claims to find loving homes for abandoned dogs, when in reality he is training Alsatians to be vicious killers, used in brutal dog fights, while using smaller dogs as “bait”.

Attempts by animal welfare officials and the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality to gain access to his Greenbushes smallholding to investigate the condition of the dogs has been thwarted by a gun-toting Nel, who threatened to shoot them if they set foot on his land.
This week, even police seemed wary of Nel. Asked to accompany The Herald to his smallholding, police said they had had many runs-in with Nel, who was considered dangerous, and would only investigate if the Animal Welfare Society secured a search warrant through the courts.

Nel, 47, a former defence force sergeant and EP boxer, has been in and out of Fort England psychiatric hospital since 1995 after he shot and killed army legal officer Captain Marius Bezuidenhout during an argument at EP Command.

For the past several weeks, he has placed an advert in The Herald‘s sister publication Weekend Post saying: “Call me if you are needing a good home for your Maltese or Fox Terrier or Alsation. Phone 078- 6838268”.

When The Herald phoned the number, pretending to be a potential donor, a woman calling herself Jenny said they did not allow donors to drop off their pets, but would rather fetch the dog from the owner‘s home.

When pressed, she said the dogs were kept on premises in North End until loving homes could be found for them. The address given could not be found.

Port Elizabeth Animal Welfare Society general manager Sharon Plumb said they had received numerous phone calls from people asking about the credibility of the person looking for dogs. “People have been asking us what the story is with this guy and if he is credible or not.”

She said a team from the Animal Welfare Society had gone to Nel‘s premises, but had been threatened with a shotgun.

“The person is not approachable. The problem is we are not sure how he homes the animals.”

Rose Connell, of the municipality‘s dog control unit, said Nel was a puppy farmer and was operating illegally. “He is a puppy farmer. He breeds dogs and sells puppies. We‘ve had problems with him breeding dogs.” She said they had visited the premises, but were threatened.

A volunteer, who did not want to be named, said the man was “fishy”. “What he‘s doing does not sound legal.” She said there were concerns in the community that Nel was using the dogs for fighting and using the smaller dogs as bait.

Plumb confirmed that there was a possibility that the dogs were used for fighting.

“It is a possibility, but we don‘t have prima facie evidence to support that.”

She said the fact that Nel refused to allow people to go to his premises could mean that he was using the dogs for fighting.

The police warned that Nel was “a dangerous man”.

When a reporter phoned a second time and identified herself as being from The Herald, the woman who had earlier identified herself as Jenny said they had a list of people who were looking for specific dogs. Asked why she refused to allow people to see where she was keeping the dogs, she said: “I‘m not refusing anybody anything. I‘m doing a service for the community.” She then rang off.

Nel became notorious after being charged with the murder of his Defence Force lawyer, whom he allegedly shot twice while consulting him over a disciplinary matter he was facing. Nel was declared unfit to stand trial and spent two years as a patient at Fort England in Grahamstown.

Nel is currently facing four charges of assault. The case has been delayed because Nel kept hiring and firing lawyers.

Henry Lerm, one of his former lawyers, said he had been Nel‘s seventh lawyer and that there had been two others after him. He has now taken the Legal Aid Board to the High Court.

Legal Aid Board spokesman Dave McGlew said the High Court matter had been closed and that the board would no longer represent Nel.

The case against Nel was postponed until October 14 for him to appoint a legal representative.

More info at The Herald.