‘Dogs should be properly socialised to prevent attacks’

2015-12-14 11:00
James Sinkins with his father Graydon.

James Sinkins with his father Graydon. (Supplied)

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Pietermartizburg - Dogs should be properly socialised to prevent tragedies such as the death of eight-year-old James Sinkins, who was attacked by two dogs last Thursday, a Pietermartizburg vet said yesterday.

The son of Witness books editor and former arts editor ­Estelle, and Graydon Sinkins, was viciously attacked by their neighbour’s two German Shepherd-cross dogs while he was playing in his garden.

Estelle arrived home to the devastating sight of her son being mauled by the two dogs, eventually managing to wrestle them off her son.

James was rushed to hospital where he received immediate surgery before being transferred to the ICU at St Anne’s hospital for a blood transfusion.

However, he suffered a major setback and died on Friday afternoon.

Yesterday, Estelle said she and her husband had received overwhelming love and support from family and friends, but were struggling immensely to cope with the tragic loss.

“Graydon and I are fine the one minute, and in pieces the next,” said Estelle.

She said she had heard the dogs who attacked James had been euthanased and said although she was an animal lover, it was a comfort to know the dogs would no longer pose a risk to anyone else. “A few years ago, the dogs killed my cat, Pebbles, and then our labrador, Bonso, who wouldn’t have hurt a fly,” she said.

“I wanted them euthanased then, but they pleaded with me to keep them and promised they would keep their dogs enclosed and I said yes. They never kept their promise,” she said.

“Those dogs were always out on the road, and were extremely aggressive. They should not have been kept in a suburban area.”

Estelle pleaded with people to control their animals and be responsible.

“I do not want another family to ever have to go through this,’ she said.

A Pietermaritzburg vet, who would not be named, said that when the dogs killed Estelle’s cat and labrador, that should have sounded the alarm for the owners to take action.

“You know your own dogs. If you have to shut them up in the house when visitors come, or are worried that they are going to bite someone, then there is a problem,” said the vet.

“Under the circumstances that were reported, with the aggression that the dogs displayed, there should have been huge alarm bells going off in the owners’ heads.

“The most essential thing when owning a dog, to prevent the potential of misbehavioural issues, aggression and attacks, is proper socialisation.”

The vet said that in general, not referring to any specific dog or incident, a dog should be introduced to other dogs and pets between the ages of six weeks and four months.

“It is important to make sure a dog is exposed to other pets and this can reduce the number of dog fights and people being bitten.

“These are the basics, but so few people do this.”

Police spokesperson Captain Gay Ebrahim said an inquest docket had been opened and it would be up the court to decide whether James’s death would be ruled as a culpable homicide.

“We urge all pet owners to be responsible and ensure their pets are kept in a secure area that they are unable to escape from,” she said.

The Witness reported on Saturday that the owner of the dogs, Shanaaz ­Alladin, said she was not at home when the incident occurred and said it was “an ­incident between two innocent parties and I am torn because I feel for both”.

Umgeni SPCA manager Dudu Abrahams confirmed on Friday afternoon that the ­owners had surrendered the dogs and that they had been taken to the SPCA and were put down on Friday.

• chelsea.pieterse@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  animals  |  dogs

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