By Helen Bamford

A Cape Town toddler was killed when his head was crushed by the powerful jaws of a crossbreed pitbull-bull mastiff.

Caleb Arendse, 2, of Grassy Park was savaged on Friday by the dog, which belonged to close family friends living in the same street.

Kallid was with his grandmother, Elizabeth Hugo, visiting the friends a few doors from his home when the tragedy ended his short life.

The traumatised owner of the dog, a colleague of Hugo's for 30 years, spoke to Weekend Argus on condition her name was not published.

The woman said the dog was usually kept on a short chain in the back garden but was let off for about half an hour every day.

She said it usually couldn't get out the garden but her son had opened the gate and did not notice the dog rush out when the visitors arrived.

"He went straight for Caleb and knocked him over, then grabbed him in his jaws. I ran out with a bucket of water. It was terrible, there was blood everywhere."

She said the dog, which was about three years old, had never behaved viciously before.

Caleb was taken to Victoria Hospital where doctors battled to resuscitate him for more than an hour before he died.

Anke Nitzsche, a doctor at Victoria, said Kallid had terrible injuries to his head.

"He was also punctured on the neck and lungs but his head wounds were most severe."

Shaun Bodington, chief inspector for the SPCA, who put down the dog, said there should be laws against keeping certain breeds of dogs.

"In South Africa it's become a status symbol to keep dangerous breeds, and in-breeding in itself is dangerous."

He said people were taking two aggressive breeds of dog and creating monsters.

Bodington said keeping a dog on a chain was likely to make it more aggressive and unpredictable.

"A short chain is a recipe for disaster."

He said that the owners were liable to be charged criminally under the Animal Matters Amendment Act.

"At the end of the day it's always the owners' fault because they should take responsibility for their dog."

But police spokesperson Sandy Cook said no criminal charges were planned at this stage.

He said there would be an inquest but it did not appear as though there had been any negligence on the part of the dog owner.

The Weekend Argus could not reach Caleb's parents.