A Cape Town veterinarian says he laid a charge with the SPCA last year against the country’s self-proclaimed dog whisperer over the methods he used to restrain dogs.
James Lech, who claims to be a “dog shaman”, had his Rottweiler impounded on Wednesday after it attacked a toddler, Meeka Riley Lackay of Bridgetown at a Clifton beach.
The toddler suffered 11 bites and had a chunk of flesh ripped from the back of her thigh.
Rondebosch vet Dr David Grant says he had laid a formal complaint against Lech with the SPCA last June.
Grant said he was called out after hours by a client who needed his dog sedated for a trip to Joburg.
“I went through to the practice, where I met my client and James Lech, introduced as an animal behaviourist who was to train his dog.”
Grant said the dog was to be taken to Lech’s home in Joburg for an extended stay to help treat the dog’s aggression.
“When the dog was presented to me I was horrified. It had been bound with nylon ropes so tightly that Mr Lech could hardly undo them. Both front and hind limbs were bound and the dog was muzzled with ropes.”
The vet said he expressed his horror that a behaviourist could treat an animal like that.
“The dog was extremely agitated and salivating and its eyes were blood red. In all my professional life I had never been presented with anything quite as scared… but it seemed that Mr Lech was adamant that all this was acceptable.”
Lech’s parting comment was that in three months the dog would be cured of its aggression.
“I gave the dog a dose of tranquilliser and asked them to leave. I subsequently wrote to my client asking him not to return to my practice.”
Grant reported the incident to the SPCA the next day.
“I left a statement and have been in contact with the inspectorate. For some reason the Cape of Good Hope SPCA jurisdiction could not help in prosecuting the case in Joburg and the complaint was moved to the national office.
“I was satisfied, though, that the local SPCA had done what it could and that Lech had been blacklisted by animal welfare organisations.”
Lech, whose pet rehabilitation centre is in Camps Bay, could not be reached.
The City of Cape Town and the police are investigating Wednesday’s attack. Neil Arendse, Law Enforcement Services spokesman, said Lech is being charged with contravening the city’s bylaws by bringing the dog on to the beach out of hours.
“He will also have to appear before a municipal court in the near future and has been fined R1 500 for walking the dog illegally.”
Last year in a similar incident one of Lech’s Rottweilers mauled a four-year-old at a restaurant in Hyde Park. - Weekend Argus