Pit bull terror in Blackridge

2016-01-13 06:00
PHOTO: supplied  The injury that Rob Hardwick’s male Basset Hound, Duk sustained after being attacked by a pit bull.

PHOTO: supplied The injury that Rob Hardwick’s male Basset Hound, Duk sustained after being attacked by a pit bull.

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BLACKRIDGE residents have called for the immediate removal of two pit bulls allegedly terrorising the community.

Following the death of two dogs in the neighbourhood which were mauled and killed by the pit bulls, the community wants authorities to take action to prevent further attacks and deaths.

The two pit bulls are believed to belong to one owner.

Even though the victims are animals­, Blackridge resident Rob Hardwick is worried that there is no legislation that protects residents and pets from the potential threat.

Last week, Hardwick’s dog, a four-year-old female Basset Hound named Molly, was killed by one of them.

“Molly had bites on her stomach which we thought would be cleaned up. However, we did not realise the internal damage that had been done.

“Her vital organs in her abdomen had been crushed and due to her compromised position, she had to be euthanased­,” said Hardwick.

This was Hardwick’s second encounter with the pit bulls. In December 2015, his male Basset Hound Duk was attacked by one of the pit bulls, but survived. Hardwick’s veterinary bills for both incidents came to R5 300.

Hardwick fears that the pit bulls will one day attack his daughter after being dropped off from school outside their gate. He also fears for the lives of other community members, their pets and school children who use Mileman Road to travel to school.

On the same day that Molly died, Hardwick, his neighbours and an employee from the Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) witnessed one pit bull brutally killing a dog in its own yard.

“Although armed with pepper spray, the SPCA representative was rightly too afraid to try and enter the yard and help the animal. The nature in which this pit bull went about it would suggest that it had been involved in fighting before, which is of major concern to both animals and people in the area,” said Hardwick in a statement.

On one occasion, a pig was attacked by one of the pit bulls. In another separate event, two boys were attacked by one of them.

“I have driven past that house on numerous occasions, stopping at their gate and asking them to please make sure their dogs are kept in the yard.

“Even the little harmless ones are forever running up and down our street, getting my dogs in a frenzy,” said one resident in a statement.

About 36 Blackridge residents have signed a petition calling for the removal of the two Pit bulls.

Pietermaritzburg SPCA’s senior inspector Rose Stafford said it is the responsibility of every pet owner to ensure that their property is adequately fenced or walled and their pet is securely confined within their property. She said that an SPCA inspector was present at the scene of the attack, but was unable to assist as another of the pit bulls was also very aggressive and would not let him onto the property.

“SAPS were contacted for assistance, but took over 45 minutes to arrive by which time it was too late to help the dog. We have been in contact with the owner of the dogs and with a neighbour whose dog was also attacked. A case has been opened with SAPS.

“Pit bulls are known as a fighting breed and are often aggressive with other animals. They are not normally aggressive towards people, but obviously there are exceptions with all breeds of dog. The owner of these dogs must ensure that they are confined to his property at all times. Further instructions may be issued by a magistrate,” she said.

She urged the community to report damage or injuries caused by dogs to people, property or other animals to the police and open a case against the owner of the dogs.

“The SPCA deals with cruelty to animal­s so these matters do not fall under our authority, but we are always willing to assist with advice and assistance when it is necessary to open a case,” said Stafford.

The owner of the property where the pit bulls live said she only heard about the incident three days ago via email. She said that she has spoken to her tenants, the owners of the dogs, about the matter.

Animal Anti-Cruelty League (AACL) chief inspector Rulof Jackson said that irrespective of the breed of the animal, municipal by-laws require all animals to be kept in such a manner as to not create a public nuisance.

“The requirements for different dogs may differ but the basics are the same - a fence that is high and secure enough for the animal to be safely kept inside and a gate secure enough to prevent dogs from escaping into the road. The owner is supposed to ensure that the dogs do not escape off his property and thus attack other dogs or community members. Failing this indicates that the person is an irresponsible owner and as such the municipal council should institute action against this person to force him to comply with the by-laws.”

Jackson said that for any injury caused by an animal to a human one can open a charge at the SAPS under the Animal Matters Amendment Act, 1993.

“Any animal that runs around freely in public spaces attacking people or other animals are a threat to a community and can be classified under the Animal Protection Act 71 of 1962 as a marauding domestic animal. A well-trained pit bull that is kept responsibly in its yard should not be a threat to anyone except trespassers. Any dog that finds itself in a public space is potentially a threat to itself and the public,” added Jackson.

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