Within a period of just over a week there have been three pit bull attacks that left residents in and around Durban with serious injuries.
In the most recent incident, a staff member of Gordon Road Girls' School in Windermere, believed to be in his forties, was viciously attacked on Tuesday outside the school while attempting to save a pupil from the two dogs.
KwaZulu-Natal Education Department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said the incident took place at around 7.30am while a pupil together with a teacher's assistant (TA) were walking towards the school gate.
Mahlambi said that suddenly two pit bull dogs were seen running towards them and a general assistant, who saw the dogs, stepped in to assist.
He said the man managed to save the girl and the TA by stepping in front of them to protect them and he was badly attacked by the two dogs.
“Subsequently the owner came out and managed to get one of the dogs off of the staff member while the second dog continued to bite him,” said Mahlambi.
Mahlambi said other staff members then came to assist and members of the SAPS arrived. The dog was shot and taken to a vet where it was put down while the owner took the other dog back to his property.
“The learner is traumatised,” he said.
The staff member was stabilised and transported to a hospital for further care.
Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Robert Netshiunda said Berea police are investigating a charge related to the keeping of ferocious dogs.
Animal behaviour expert, Dr Quixi Sonntag, said the problem dogs that end up mauling people were mostly a product of human intervention or lack thereof in that there are people who want very aggressive dogs.
Sonntag said owners of big, strong dogs like pit bulls and several other breeds, should understand the potential risks of owning such a dog and take preventive measures such as keeping the dogs off the streets and always safely enclosed away from members of the public.
“This should be balanced with providing a sufficiently stimulating environment for the dog to prevent boredom and frustration. Frustration is at the root of much of the aggression seen in dogs. If such dogs are taken out of their safe environment, they should be fully controlled by the handler, using appropriate equipment,” she said.
She noted that these dogs can be quite strong and difficult to handle if the handler is young, inexperienced or not physically strong.
“You really need to know your dog very well and be able to control it in all circumstances,” she said adding that even if control is lost temporarily, it can be regained.
Sonntag advised that owners need to be honest with themselves about whether they will really have control of their dog in all situations.
“Furthermore, if a dog has already attacked somebody or shown any form of even mild inappropriate aggression, owners should act pro-actively and consult with experts about the likelihood of it happening again.”