Pit bull owners urged to leash in their dogs after baby's death
Johannesburg - Lorraine Brown had seconds to act if she was to save her neighbour’s life. Moments earlier she had heard her neighbour’s frantic screams.
What the 64-year-old Florida Lake, Roodepoort, woman saw when she went to investigate was horrifying: her neighbour struggling down her driveway with two pit bull terriers hanging on to her.
Brown made a dash into her home and grabbed a Taser.
“I put my hand through the palisades and tasered the dogs but the device had no effect on them. It was then that one of the dogs grabbed my hand.”
Lorraine’s husband George ran to the house and fetched the couple’s .357 Magnum revolver.
Brown took the firearm from her husband and as one of the dogs made a rush for her, she pushed the barrel through the palisades.
“I managed to shove the barrel into the dog’s mouth and pulled the trigger.”
Brown saw the other dog going for the woman’s face, she fired a second shot, and killed it too.
The neighbour was hospitalised and Brown had a flesh wound on her hand. Both have since recovered.
This incident happened in July and, while serious, was not fatal.
But this was not the case this week when 6-month-old baby Callum was mauled to death by a pit bull at his grandmother’s house in Fourth Avenue, Primrose. His mauling has been one of many involving pit bulls recently. In September, a 4-month-old baby was dragged from bed and mauled to death in Ravensmead, Cape Town.
Six-month-old baby Callum Kruger. Picture: Supplied
In July, Gemma Madden was mauled on the eve of her 10th birthday inside her Hillcrest home in Durban.
In January, a family’s pit bull turned on siblings, killing one, 3-year-old Eslene Naidoo, and critically injuring her 6-year-old sister Talia in Mayville, Durban.
The NSPCA said there have been an increased number of attacks on humans by pit bulls.
“In some cases, the owners are aware of aggressive behaviour and do little to nothing to ensure that the animal and the people that the animal comes into contact with are safe,” the NSPCA said.
The Animal Behaviour Consultants of South Africa said the dog’s breed was also important.
“As with any powerful breed of dog, it is imperative that the person responsible for the dog is knowledgeable and skilled in terms of managing the dog and their environment accordingly.”
The NSPCA pointed out that pit bulls were usually incredibly loyal dogs. The animal welfare organisation said that if a pit bull was involved in an attack, usually charges were laid in accordance with the Animal Matters Amendment Act, and it was up to the court to decide what happened to the dog.
According to law firm DSC Attorneys, the country has the highest incidence of dog attacks on humans than any other in the world.
Kirstie Haslam, a partner in the firm, said dog bites accounted for 76% to 94% of animal bite injuries, and dog bite fatalities were higher because of a lack of post-exposure treatment and appropriate access to healthcare.
The Animal Behaviour Consultants of SA said that to limit the risk of dog attacks on humans, owners should selects breeds with non-aggressive temperaments and learn to handle the animal properly.
Six months after Brown shot the two pit bulls, her family see the lighter side of the incident.
“When last did you shoot a pit bull?” her nieces jokingly ask. To them she is the badass aunty.