Cape Town - The owner of two husky dogs in Simon’s Town has been charged after the Cape of Good Hope SPCA and the City’s Law Enforcement Animal Control Unit removed and impounded the dogs after they killed 17 endangered African penguins on Seaforth Beach over the weekend.
Deputy mayor and spatial planning and environment Mayco member Eddie Andrews said a full investigation was conducted with the assistance of City’s Law Enforcement, and due to the serious nature of the attack and the impact on the critically endangered African Penguin colony, the City is pursuing appropriate legal action against the dog owner.
“The owners were not arrested. The incident is being dealt with in terms of the Animal Keeping By-Law. The dogs were impounded and the owner was charged with failure ‘to prevent any animal from attacking, worrying or frightening any other person or animal’. The case will now be dealt with through the courts,” Andrews said.
“The matter was still being finalised and the City will liaise with the owner.”
Cape of Good Hope SPCA chief inspector Jaco Pieterse said they were in possession of an affidavit from a witness who saw the two dogs attacking the penguins on the beach.
“They were off their leashes and it was subsequently confirmed by the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) that the birds’ deaths appeared to be caused by dog bites.”
SANCCOB head of conservation Nicky Stander said the incident has shocked and saddened all who work tirelessly to conserve this endangered seabird, which is currently declining at an alarming rate, with populations the lowest on record.
SANCCOB’s clinical veterinarian described severe bite marks and puncture wounds to the lower parts of the penguins’ bodies, while several penguins suffered extensive wounds to the neck, abdomen and groin areas.
Among the carcasses discovered, two African penguin chicks were also killed, which confirmed that predation took place on land, as these chicks would not have been seaworthy yet.
Pieterse explained that Seaforth Beach was a primary nesting site for around 150 endangered African penguins, and was on the border of Boulders Beach – the world-famous African penguin breeding colony.
Stander said increased efforts were needed to ensure repeated incidents of companion animal attacks were avoided; this involved a review of where dogs were walked in the Simon’s Town vicinity, and harsher enforcement for non-compliance.
Andrews said: “This is not the first time domestic dogs have attacked and killed penguins in Simon’s Town, and as a result of this severe and significant attack, the City’s coastal management branch will submit a report to the local sub-council to recommend an amendment to the current areas where dogs on leads are permitted in the Simon’s Town penguin management area, to no dog zones in public coastal walkways and beaches where penguins and other coastal wildlife frequent.”