SAVA CVC’s: Sustainable Welfare





85% of the estimated 6 million dogs in SA have no access to veterinary services.

One of the major hurdles is the affordability of veterinary services.

At the moment vets charge high prices to cover their overhead costs and one wonders where they learn how to apply indirect costs, since prices of R2500 and more for sterilisations are being charged (I saw one quote for R4600, which I find absurd), which is not only astronomical but simply obscene; it’s like they are pricing for the well-heeled and everyone else be damned. Seems the Hippocratic Oath does not apply in the veterinary profession. Perhaps Hypocrites, whose motto, ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ seems more appropriate…

We did some calculations based on a simple process without overheads, and it turns out sterilisation input costs amount to about R350. Given a Markup of 50% to cover overheads, a sterilisation should cost R525 – quite reasonable. I’ve looked at some of the costings ‘created’ by vets and one assumption was that vet’s time should be costed at R54 PER MINUTE. WHAT? That’s R3240 an HOUR, and R25 920 a DAY. Sorry but NOBODY is worth that. Add to that obscure costings for assistants’ time and theatre time and a ‘consultation’ (how much consultation is necessary to decide to sterilise an animal? 15 seconds?) and it all adds up to justification for that SUV or holiday home…

But not all vets are the same. Some have a genuine concern for the animals and do not see them as a means to the end of luxury and social one-upmanship. The SAVA CVC (South African Veterinary Association Community Veterinary Clinics) are composed of such vets, who have taken it upon themselves to be part of the solution.

From the SAVA CVC Organisational Profile:

“In South Africa domestic pets and food-production animals suffer primarily because of ignorance, uncontrolled breeding and preventable infectious diseases. There are an estimated 6 million dogs alone in South Africa, of which 85% have no access to veterinary services. Unfortunately there are very few state run veterinary hospitals or clinics in South Africa. The South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) supports responsible pet ownership and understands the importance of the human animal bond. The SAVA therefore established Community Veterinary Clinics (CVC) to assist disadvantaged pet owners with basic animal health care.

The South African Veterinary Association Community Veterinary Clinics (SAVA-CVC) is an initiative where private veterinarians donate their time and skills to render primary veterinary services in disadvantaged communities.

Cover PhotoOur main activity is primary health care: vaccinations, parasite control and sterilisations. We currently have 30 clinics nationwide reaching 80 communities per year. We also put a lot of emphasis on educating pet owners about basic care of their pets: general health, prevention of dog bites, nutrition, training, etc. Our booklet “Your Best Friend” is available in 7 official South African languages: (English, Afrikaans, Sesotho, isiZulu, Setswana, isiXhosa and Xitsonga). These booklets are distributed countrywide, as we hope to reach as many people as possible.

cvc8CVC’s involvement is intended to address needs expressed by the community. We are not in favour of going into communities and insisting on performing procedures and treatments on peoples’ pets regardless of whether the owners agree with what needs to be done, or have given consent for the procedures. The CVC clinics take a long term, sustainable approach, ensuring the community’s understanding, acceptance and co-operation. Seldom is there immediate co-operation on all aspects. However, with time and patience, most communities come to value our services, and will accept all aspects, including sterilisation.

All CVC workers assist at the clinics on a voluntary basis. We try to involve the community as much as possible to establish partners instead of charities within communities. We believe in the importance of growing and sustaining partnerships with communities.

The SAVA-CVC plays a vital role in community development. To be relevant in a country with such overwhelming human need, animal welfare should have a humanitarian impact. It is a long-established fact that there is a direct relationship between animal cruelty and violence within communities. Access to basic veterinary services and humane education of children creates empathy for others, respect for life and creates a culture of caring and empathy for all beings. This is a vital ingredient in the building of a nation.”

Benefits of the CVC Model

The companion animal welfare scenario is complex, and requires a focus on a number of facets over time if sustainable change is to be achieved:

1. Primary Care: Vaccinations, Deworming and Tick and Flea Control are critical components of companion animal care, and yet many people do not have access to these services or do not comprehend their importance. A more widespread and consistent application of primary care will reduce risk of epidemics and reduce costs to communities over time.
2. Sterilisation: Population Control has become a Critical Success Factor and will also reduce the exposure of communities to zoonotic diseases, reduced
3. Education: Making communities aware of the prerequisites and benefits of companion animal welfare will increase the probability of sustainability and will not only enable better management of companion animal populations but also lead to improved animal and human health and general wellbeing.
4. The CVC’s work in and with the communities, rather than separate from in the way that so many organisations operate, rescuing animals but never attending to the task of bringing about sustainable change in the attitudes and practices of people in those communities through education.

In short, the CVC model ticks all the boxes.

The companion animals population numbers should be drastically reduced, and the only way is mass sterilisation, and then only if this can be accompanied by follow-ups in the community. It’s also critical that this be accompanied by legislation restricting breeding and competent and effective policing of the legislation.

The fact is, unless we start sterilising large quantities of companion animals, we will never stop the cycle of neglect and abandonment that results in more than a MILLION cats and dogs being ‘put to sleep’, a popular euphemism for ‘killed’, in our shelters, never mind the ones that died of starvation or were run over by cars or contracted diseases that should have been unnecessary.


For some time I have argued that Government needs to step up because the consequences of NOT doing something about the current companion animal overpopulation crisis are significant.

The Government in Gauteng has come aboard: According to the CVC agreement with GDARD (Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development):

9.1. The initial financial contribution from the Department for each pet sterilized will be to a maximum of R500 (Five Hundred Rand) for each pet sterilized inclusive of a fee for transportation.
9.2. The annual financial allocation from the department to the Service Delivery Partner shall not exceed R400 000 (Four Hundred Thousand Rand) inclusive of VAT.
9.3. The financial contribution allocated per pet will increase by 10% (Ten per centum) annually on the I of April every year until the full term of the project is completed in terms of this MOA, however the maximum financial allocation per annum from the Department to the Service Delivery Partner will not exceed R400 000
9.4. The Service Delivery Partner shall render original statements to the Department to verify expenditure. Statements shall be detailed and shall include work done and cost.

The CVCs did 643 sterilisations in 2015 an 800 in 2016. It’s a good start but it’s really a tiny amount compared to the number that need to be done, which is hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions. But the CVC’s will need the support of the animal-loving community to grow this model and there are several ways in which this can be done:

1. Local animal welfare orgs should work closely with CVC’s and make sure their efforts are sustainable
2. Influence your vet to set up a CVC
3. Donate to the CVC’s
4. Tell others. Post this article to Facebook or your favourite social media platform. (Click on the link at the bottom)
5. NB!!! We need to get the booklet “Your Best Friend” printed and distributed – it costs R12 to print, let’s get sponsorship for the printing and then set up distribution networks! Talk to me at

There are CVC’s in many regions in SA. Click on this link to see if there is one in your area:

Community Vets






Please contact the SAVA-CVC Head Office at Vethouse in Monument Park if you can make a contribution:

Elmien Delport — or 082 897 8575
Elize Joubert — or 012 346 1150 (general enquiries!CVC’s outside Gauteng)
Elsa Daniels — or 012 346 1150 (CVC’s in the Gauteng area).

Or donate:


ABSA Brooklyn 632005
Acc no. 4056779023
Email confirmation: