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Pit bulls surrendered to SPCA tell tale of dog fighting

THIS dog was surrendered by its owner to the SPCA Tshwane's Waltloo branch. Its cropped ears indicate it was used for dog fighting.     Jacques Naude African News Agency (ANA)

THIS dog was surrendered by its owner to the SPCA Tshwane's Waltloo branch. Its cropped ears indicate it was used for dog fighting. Jacques Naude African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 12, 2019


Pretoria - The two pit bulls from Mamelodi and Eersterust surrendered to the SPCA Tshwane by their owners, told the story of the gruesome nature of dog fighting, the organisation said yesterday.

Both dogs had cropped ears, one of the signs of dog fighting, said the SPCA. It said people who engaged in the blood sport believed dogs with cropped ears had a better chance of not being killed during a fight.

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The manager of the special investigations unit at the National SPCA, Wendy Willson, said South Africans differed from the rest of the world in that they engaged in the bloody sport just for the sake of gratuitous violence, not for commodity or financial gain.

Willson said there were different levels of sophistication within dog fighting.

The lower levels took place on the streets, open veld or in abandoned buildings. These were often seen by passers-by and easy to report.

However, the higher and more secret levels were difficult to locate. The dogs used for fighting were almost exclusively American pit bull terriers, Willson said.

However, at the less sophisticated levels, the perpetrators might also use similar breeds, such as bull terriers or Staffordshire terriers.

At the lowest level, dogs were commonly sourced from “free-to-a-good-home adverts”, or stolen from pet owners. At the higher levels, the dogs were bred, raised and trained specifically for this criminal purpose.

“Dog fighting is a fast growing and widespread crime in South Africa, which has a significant negative impact on the community because of its violent nature. It is often linked with other crimes, particularly interpersonal violence and control crimes such as woman and child abuse,” Willson said.

She said the dark underworld of dog fighting was illegal; in fact every aspect of dog fighting was illegal in the country.

This included people who fight, own, breed and sell the dogs. People who keep the dogs on their property, let the organisers use their property for fights, keep fighting dogs, watch fights and organise fights.

“The perpetrators of this crime can face many years of imprisonment and heavy fines as well as additional penalties,” Willson said.

“The punishment for participating in dog fighting - direct imprisonment - is a difficult sentence to secure, but recently the special investigations unit secured the fourth direct imprisonment sentence for this crime for this year alone.

Six individuals were convicted and sentenced in the Atteridgeville Magistrate's Court for their involvement in dog fighting. The unit rescued 14 pit bull fighting dogs in Atteridgeville last year.

The six were found guilty for their part in dog fighting and animal cruelty offences and sentenced to several years of direct imprisonment for the possession of dogs for the purpose of dog fighting, and for the dogs' dreadful living conditions.

The six were sentenced to two-and-a-half years of direct imprisonment with no part suspended and no option of a fine.

“It indicates that the courts are taking this crime very seriously and have realised the massive impact it is having on our society,” Willson said.

The best way to prevent pit bulls, or similar breeds, being stolen was to have them sterilised, she said.

"Having a pet sterilised makes a dog less of a target. Where possible keep dogs out of sight of the road and in a secure yard.

“Never leave high-risk dogs unattended in vehicles or outside shops. When going on holiday employ a house-sitter who can stay at home or take the animals to a secure and recognised boarding kennel.”

Pretoria News

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