A village and the hounds of hell

2009-06-06 00:00

RESIDENTS of the small village of Inchanga, west of Durban, are under siege by packs of dogs that are already known to have killed two people.

Another person is in a critical condition in hospital. The survivor is a security guard whose leg was amputated following an attack.

Residents say they are terrified to leave their homes, because they do not know when the killer dogs will come out of the bush where they hide and attack.

The first of the dogs’ victims was discovered on Good Friday, when a resident walking in the area stumbled across the “ripped up” body of a man lying in the bushes.

It is believed that the dogs formed a pack and attacked the man as he walked home.

Two days later, another body with mangled limbs and huge flesh wounds was found in the bushes. Pieces of ripped of flesh were found lying next to the victim.

Residents say the bodies were ripped to pieces, clear evidence that even adults are no match for the dogs.

Most of the bite victims have been making their way to the Fredville Clinic, where officials confirmed that 30 children and 62 adults have been attacked by the marauding packs over the past year.

A nurse at the clinic said: “Every month there are new statistics with regards to dog bites and they never decrease.”

The eThekwini Municipality’s city health department has since the two deaths culled 84 dogs, but the pack is still growing and the SPCA is now planning to capture and euthanase more dogs in an attempt to destroy the pack.

SPCA inspector Steve Wight said the local clinic has treated more than 48 dog bite victims in the past five months.

“What is scary is that these dogs are large and fierce enough to kill adults. Even a grown man is no match for these dogs,” he said.

Wight said it is difficult to determine how many dogs are in the pack as they keep breeding. We are trying to be as humane as possible, but these dogs are dangerous, a real threat to the local community,” he said.

The number of feral dogs, according to the head of the Durban city health department Dr Ayo Olowolagba, is the largest ever seen in the region.

He said: “These dogs are ownerless and the situation has us worried. We have not seen anything of this kind before and we had no choice but to cull some of the dogs. But there are still some packs out there and we don’t know if they are rabid or not.

“The population of dogs is increasing by the day and we are now working on a plan that will involve all the relevant role players.”

According to Olowolagba, that includes Metro Police, Animal Anti-cruelty, the SPCA and the local ward councillor. He said the plan may involve trapping the dogs. The method used to cull the dogs was a shot to the head and they died instantly.

The Kloof and Highway SPCA confirmed that they were present to observe the culling of some of the dogs. Inspector at the SPCA, well known animal rights activist Steve White, said: “Our role was to ensure no cruelty was involved in the culling.”

An inside source told Kwana news service that the killing of the 84 dogs was merely the tip of the iceberg. “These dogs pose a huge threat to the community. Their numbers run into thousands, they are feral, they are living in a bush of alien plants and the two people that were killed by these dogs are just those that we know of — there may be more. The problem never goes away because the dogs just keep breeding.

“The problem is like a cheap horror movie, except here it’s true.”

Dr Olowolagba confirmed this. He said the city health department believes the feral dog packs have grown because many people from the area have died of Aids and left their dogs “orphaned”.

“We have orphaned children and now also orphaned dogs.”

One of the victims, Babongile Ngcobo (55), said she was bitten by the vicious dogs two months ago. She said she had to be vaccinated against rabies following the attack. She said: “I approached a person who I thought was the owner of the dogs about being bitten and she said it was not only her dogs that have been biting people in the area.”

The national spokeswoman of the SPCA, Chris Kuch, said: “The matter is ongoing and is high on the agenda of the Kloof & Highway SPCA.”

“The problem is like a cheap horror movie, except here it’s true.”

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