Attack dog put down

2010-03-13 00:00

THE vicious pit bull terrier Velo that attacked jogger Janice White­law has finally been put down. But it took an attack on another woman on Thursday for the Petersen family, who own the pit bull, to relent.

Whitelaw was attacked by Velo and a smaller dog close to her home in Ashburton while out jogging last month. She suffered severe bites on her arm and face.

The second woman was attacked while on her morning walk just after 4 am on Thursday.

Mandla Sithole, the head of the Msunduzi licensing department, said his office had received a written complaint from the woman, but he was not aware of a case being opened.

This was all the information Sithole could offer.

His department is responsible for dealing with problematic dogs that bite or attack people outside their owners’ properties.

But they did not try to trace Velo when the Petersen family claimed to have given him away after the attack on Whitelaw.

This was despite numerous calls for the dog to be put down by people in the area who claimed to have fallen victim to Velo’s unprovoked attacks. The dog allegedly jumped over the fence and was often outside the Petersen’s yard. He would allegedly attack people and other dogs, even in their own properties.

SPCA spokeswoman Maureen Vida said they only heard about the latest attack when the dog was brought in by the owners.

Vida said the SPCA staff was not happy to get too close to the dog while it was in their kennels because of its history. They regarded Velo as unpredictable.

However, the decision to euthanise him did not come from the municipality, but from dog owner Keagan Petersen’s father.

“Yesterday we asked Mr Petersen to come back to the SPCA to assist us with the sad task of euthanising the unfortunate dog. Velo showed no sign of aggression towards Mr Petersen and was humanely put down,” said Vida.

Whitelaw said she was sorry that someone else had to be attacked before something was done about the dog. “I don’t feel pleased at all that he has been put down, but it had to be done. But I do think the municipality is at fault for not acting,” she said.

However, Sithole did not feel his department should take the rap for the latest attack. South Africa does not have bylaws that govern owning a pit bull terrier.

Vida said that since the pit bull breed has the potential to be aggressive, it is essential that, from an early age, the dog is well socialised and trained.

She said the chaining or confinement of pit bulls can aggravate aggressive tendencies.

“If they are well socialised with humans and other dogs, pit bulls can make wonderful pets, as many pit bull owners will confirm.

“It is very sad that this dog, Velo, had to be destroyed because his owner did not see the warning signs and take the appropriate action to prevent these very serious incidents,” said Vida.

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