Pit bulls are being surrendered or killed by community members across SA following spate of attacks

Pit bull. File Picture

Pit bull. File Picture

Published Nov 23, 2022


Durban - The National Council of SPCA is battling to cope with the influx of pit bulls that are being surrendered by their owners to SPCA branches across the country, following several incidents where the breed attacked people.

NSPCA spokesperson Keshvi Nair said in a statement yesterday that SPCAs around the country were facing the difficult task of dealing with the aftermath of these attacks.

“Pit bulls are being surrendered to SPCAs in large numbers and, in communities where owners have not surrendered their pit bulls, the communities are beginning to take matters into their own hands. Animals are being poisoned, stabbed, beaten, and set alight in retaliation from angry communities,” she said.

The NSPCA has raised concerns over the impact that the mass surrender of pit bulls would have on the SPCA, which does not receive funding from the government. This is in addition to work being carried out in communities, with limited resources.

“We are faced with dealing with this issue alone as well. The SPCA movement is taking action at great risk and cost to assist animals and communities. Realistically, the movement does not have the resources to cover the cost of this national campaign without support from other relevant role-players in this matter,” said Nair.

As the relevant department responsible for this matter, Nair said the NSPCA has formally approached the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, and Land Reform for its plan and strategy to address this national issue.

“There is an urgent need for government intervention with regard to this issue, failing which humans and animals could be harmed at an even greater scale,” she said.

IOL have reported several recent incidents of violence linked to pit bulls attacking people. On Sunday IOL reported that residents from Gatesville in Cape Town took matters into their own hands by killing and setting alight three pit bulls that attacked a young girl.

According to the report, the child was bitten all over her body, and angry residents chased down two of the dogs and immediately stoned them to death while the third dog was caught within minutes and killed. All three dogs were placed beside each other and set alight.

In another separate incident on Sunday in the Free State, three-year-old Keketso Saule was mauled by two pit bulls in Hennenman. Police said the toddler was certified dead at the scene with severe injuries to the head.

“The dog was removed by its owner from the scene where the incident took place, but eventually was burned to death by the angry community,” provincial police spokesperson Captain Stephen Thakeng.

Last week an eight-year-old boy was mauled to death by a pit bull that belonged to a neighbour at his home in Vista Park in Bloemfontein.

In September, 10-year-old Storm Nuke was mauled by two pit bulls in Gqeberha's Gelvandale area. Police said the boy and two other children were playing when the dogs attacked the youngster. An inquest docket was opened and the dogs were put down.

Meanwhile, the “Ban pit bulls as domestic pets in South Africa” petition started by non profit organisation, the Sizwe Kupelo Foundation, has garnered more than 118 000 signatures. Unions and political parties have come out in support of the ban.

A leading animal behaviour expert, Dr Quixi Sonntag, told The Mercury last month that although the debate around the ban of pit bulls was always centred on whether the dog or the owner were at fault, it didn’t change the fact that the breed was “genetically unsound” and that nothing could change their aggressive behaviour.

She said a blanket approach was not the answer, each dog should be judged on its own merits and professional input should be acquired each time.

“The dog’s fighting instinct can be influenced and triggered by human interference,” she said, adding that pit bulls may struggle to distinguish an appropriate target, which often leads to an attack.