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Owner probed after dogs bite two toddlers

A man who calls himself the “Dog Shaman” is under investigation by the City’s Specialised Law Enforcement Services after his Rottweiler mauled a toddler at a Clifton beach on Wednesday.

On his website called “Good Dog – join the pack” James Lech claims he is able to rehabilitate dogs by using a technique which he says incorporates a dog’s fundamental needs.

Two-year-old Meeka Riley Lackay with her mother Chanell. Meeka was attacked by a Rottweiler at a Clifton beach. Photo: David Ritchie. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

However, this is the second time one of his Rottweilers has attacked a toddler.

On Monday, Lech was walking his dogs on Clifton’s First Beach when his Rottweiler attacked two-year-old Meeka Riley Lackay from Bridgetown in Athlone.

Last year, the Sunday Times reported that one of Lech’s Rottweilers mauled a four-year-old at a restaurant in Hyde Park shopping centre in Johannesburg on July 11.

On his website, it states: “James believes no one should ever be aggressive, hit or yell at a dog to correct its behaviour or stop it from doing something.

“Instead, James advocates that fulfilling the dog’s primary needs like exercise, discipline and then affection, in that order, in a calm assertive state of energy, will ensure balance and good behaviour.”

It also says Lech is a regular guest on the morning TV show Expresso on SABC 3 and on the Radio 702 Pet Care Line show.

In the Johannesburg incident, video footage of the scene reportedly showed the child running into a restaurant when the Rottweiler attacked. She sustained minor injuries.

When the Cape Times contacted Lech on Thursday he said: “I have been advised not to talk to anyone about this matter.”

Lackay’s aunt Liska October, who was with her at the time, said she had turned her back briefly while playing with her niece near the water.

“When I turned back, I saw three Rottweilers. One grabbed Meeka and dragged her away. I immediately jumped to cover her face because I was so scared it would bite her there,” she said. “The dog’s owner came and took the dog away. A lady who said she was a doctor came to help us.”

It would be difficult to forget the image of her niece being mauled by a dog, she added.

Lackay’s parents, Chanell Riley Lackay and Keagan Peters, comforted their daughter in hospital on Thursday.

Chanell Lackay said Meeka was still in a lot of pain after more than four hours of surgery on Wednesday evening.

“They washed out her wounds and continued with plastic surgery. The doctors told us she had 11 bites with bruising. They said the dog’s tooth just missed a major artery. If it went any further she could have been paralysed for the rest of her life.”

Lackay was discharged from Cape Town Mediclinic on Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, authorities have urged dog owners to walk their pets in demarcated areas or face being fined.

The city’s Specialised Law Enforcement Services spokesman, Neil Arendse, said Lech was fined R1 500 for walking the dog illegally.

“In terms of section six of the 2010 Animal by-law, which prohibits people from keeping dogs that are a danger to the public, he may also face charges of assault by the child’s family.”

Arendse said that, because Clifton was one of the city’s blue flag beaches, no dogs were allowed, especially during the summer season.

“The dog was impounded and taken to the city’s animal pound in Atlantis. It will be handed over to the SPCA and further investigation will continue,” he said.

Arendse said 20 dogs had already been impounded, of which 10 were put down, since the by-law was enforced.

No dogs were allowed on the beach in the early morning and late evening from November to April.

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