Johannesburg - Skinny dog wasn’t meant to have a chance. Her muzzle was taped and a heavy chain prevented her from fleeing the pitbull that kept savaging her.
She appears on video footage, taken on a cellphone, which showed how she attempted in vain to escape the American pitbull that had been set on her.
Days later, she would be dead.
It was this footage that early on Thursday morning led to the arrest of eight suspects in Atteridgeville, near Pretoria, who are allegedly involved in a dog-fighting syndicate.
Also rescued in the raid were six dogs.
The dog caught on film, which investigators at the NSPCA (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) have called Skinny, is believed to have been a bait dog.
These animals, often with their muzzles taped and at times even with their teeth pulled, are used to train fighting dogs.
What the footage shows is a pitbull released onto the bait dog. The dog grabs Skinny by the face. Every time Skinny attempts to escape, she is pulled back by one of the men holding the chain.
The wounds on her face and ear are extensive.
Eventually, the pitbull is pulled from the bait dog and the film ends.
“You can see the absolute terror in her eyes; she knows what is coming,” said NSPCA investigator Wendy Willson.
Animal behaviour practitioner Karin Pienaar has also viewed the footage.
“She is restrained in such a manner that she cannot defend herself, run away or even protect her vulnerable body parts,” said Pienaar.
“The people involved in this training appear to be totally unconcerned about what this dog is going through; she is just a piece of equipment being used to teach the pitbull to fight better.”
Investigators at the NSPCA believe this is the first time that footage involving a bait dog has come into the possession of law enforcement authorities.
It is believed that Skinny was used in further dog-baiting sessions and was eventually finished off by a pitbull when the handlers decided she was too badly injured to carry on.
Willson said investigators received the video footage following a tip-off from residents. They then began identifying who was in the footage.
Thursday morning’s operation was done with the assistance of the SAPS, with three houses being raided.
“We found the dogs in enclosures on the properties; they had all been hidden,” said Willson.
One of the dogs rescued is believed to be another bait dog.
This dog has severe injuries and will be examined by a vet to see if it can be saved.
The other dogs will be assessed by an animal behaviourist to see if they can be rehabilitated.
The eight suspects are to appear in the Atteridgeville Magistrate’s Court soon on charges relating to the Animal Protection Act.
Their arrest follows another successful raid in Tsakane, Ekurhuleni, early last month, when members of the NSPCA, together with the police, raided a dog fight that was in progress, arresting 18 suspects.