City to probe pit bull attack on beach
Cape Town - The City of Cape Town plans to launch its own investigation into a dog attack at Hout Bay, where a teenage boy was mauled by a pitbull at the weekend.
Grade 10 pupil Keanu Bergman, 16, was injured during a Sunday afternoon swim at Hout Bay harbour.
During the Good Hope Subcouncil meeting on Monday subcouncil chairman Taki Amira said the city would find out the circumstances of the attack.
The owner took the dog and left the scene after the incident.
Amira said the attack was totally unacceptable. “We must take it on ourselves to find out who the owner is and the circumstances of the attack.”
Felicity Bergman, Keanu’s mother, told the Cape Argus the boy had been swimming with his cousin on Sunday afternoon.
They were at a spot where they could dive from a set of old boats. She said there were scores of people at the beach.
The boys “were the only two in the water, when he [the dog owner] took the pitbull’s leash off and threw the dog into the water”, she said. Keanu’s cousin managed to get out of the water in time. “Keanu didn’t make it and the dog grabbed on to his leg.”
Bystanders had helped pry the dog from his leg. “They had to pull the dog’s jaw open, it was locked on his leg.”
NSRI medics attended to Keanu at their Hout Bay base, but because of the severity of the bite they called an ambulance. Keanu’s father, Basil, arrived as he was being carried into the ambulance.
The boy was taken to Victoria Hospital where he received 40 stitches in his leg.
“We have to go back to the hospital on Wednesday and he will need physiotherapy after the stitches come out,” his mother said.
It’s a double blow for the teen, who was supposed to start exams on Monday.
“He is dancer so he is worried how this will impact on that.”
Bergman said she knew the owner of the dog and had visited his family on Sunday. He was not home at the time.
“This is the first time something like this happened on the beach. It could have been worse, Keanu could have been killed. Parents should also be more involved in their children’s lives, especially when it comes to owning a dog like that.”
It is not the first time the subcouncil has dealt with dogs on beaches.
In February, councillor Beverley Schafer tabled a motion asking for clarity on animal access to beaches. This came after a two-year-old girl was attacked by an unleashed Rotweiler on Clifton’s First Beach.
The motion asked for a task team to review the city’s approach to domestic animals on beaches, after which a citywide awareness programme could be launched. Schafer questioned the progress on this motion.
Marga Haywood, the ward councillor for Hout Bay, said many pet owners were not following the rules and keeping their animals on a leash. Haywood said they would be working with law enforcement officers on this problem.
“Some owners think their dogs are in control, and don’t use leashes… ”
Regarding updated signs, Schafer said new boards had been drawn up months ago but were never put up.
“They are laying in a warehouse somewhere. We need to follow up on why they have not been put up yet,” she said.
Tandeka Gqada, the mayoral committee member for community services, said the scene of the attack did not fall under the city’s authority but under the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
The city’s sports, recreation and amenities department was compiling a list of all beaches where dogs could be walked, and would appear on the city’s website.
The “free-running dog areas” were: Mouille Point, Sunset Beach in Sea Point, the middle section of Hout Bay beach, and the eastern section of Sunrise Beach.
People could walk their dogs on most other beaches, but only between 6pm and 9am.
Gqada appealed to dog owners to obey the signs at city beaches.
* Meeka Riley Lackay of Bridgetown had surgery at the beginning of the year after she was attacked by an unleashed Rottweiler at Clifton’s First Beach. Meeka was at the beach with her aunt, Liska October. The dog belonged to self-styled “dog whisperer” James Lech, from Camps Bay, who owns a dog weight-loss and rehabilitation clinic. He was fined R1 500 for contravening the regulations governing the walking of dogs on beaches. A police case against him is still pending.