Whose job is it to decide the dog’s fate?

2010-02-10 00:00

WHILE the Ashburton community wants the pit-bull terrier that attacked Janice Whitelaw put down, there is confusion about who has the authority to decide that.

Whitelaw was attacked by the 18-month-old dog named Velo while jogging on Thursday evening.

When the municipality and the SPCA went to fetch the dog on Monday, they were told by owner Keagan Petersen (20) that he has given Velo away.

The head of licensing in the Msunduzi Municipality, Mandla Sithole, said his department’s involvement in the matter is over. He said that if it is necessary to locate the dog, the owner will tell them where it is.

While he agreed that municipal dog by-laws restrict the keeping of vicious dogs, Sithole said a dog is classified as vicious only if it bites someone within [his or her] home. He said Velo would have been impounded because of the owner’s failure to keep him within the property.

“With this case, we were not looking on the side of the dog being vicious. I am not aware of that being the case. We were there because the dog was outside the gate. That is why we are not following on the case for now.”

He said the dog would have been handed to the SPCA to decide what to do with it since they are “the experts”.

However, SPCA spokeswoman Maureen Vida said they have no jurisdiction to impound dogs found in the streets even if they are accused of biting people. The municipality attends to that.

Vida said the SPCA was recently called to help the municipality catch a dog in a similar case. She said they had instructions from the municipality to euthanise the dog, which was done immediately.

“I fail to understand why this is any different,” she said.

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