Team tackles dogfighting

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A dog rescued from a life of fighting by the Cape of Good Hope SPCA’s inspectorate unit.PHOTO: SPCA
A dog rescued from a life of fighting by the Cape of Good Hope SPCA’s inspectorate unit.PHOTO: SPCA

In February this year, the City of Cape Town officially partnered with several animal welfare organisations in Cape Town to form an anti-dogfighting team.

Already in 2019, several organisations including Tears Animal Rescue in Sun Valley and the Cape of Good Hope SPCA had noted rising concerns of dogfighting in their immediate communities and on the Cape Flats (“Dogfights a rising concern”, People’s Post, 5 November 2019).

The City’s new task team, established on Monday 15 February, amalgamates the knowledge and expertise of a number of local animal rights groups and law enforcement agencies to “tackle dogfighting and deal with canine attacks on people and animals,” according to a City statement.

These include the City’s law enforcement officers who deal with animal control, inspectors from the SPCA, as well as the safety and security department’s investigations unit (SSIU).

The formation of the team came after Cape Animal Welfare Forum (CAWF) expressed concerns around dogfighting in a City meeting, says the Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith.

Since 15 February, Smith says, a total of 115 animals have been surrendered to the team. Of these, 27 dogs and five cats were from Hanover Park.

“The team has responded to all dogfighting complaints received – several of which have not been positive cases of dogfighting. However, as an example, they dealt with a case in Hanover Park where the dog was impounded and the dog owners received a written notice to appear in court with a fine,” he told People’s Post.

This team was, however, preceded by the Cape of Good Hope SPCA’s inspectorate unit in dealing with dogfighting. Still though, Smith says the problem persists and most of the team’s complaints have come from Hangberg (Hout Bay), Hanover Park, Ocean View, Mitchell’s Plain and Manenberg. “However, it is too soon to determine areas where dogfighting is most prevalent,” he adds.

In collaboration with the City’s animal control unit, a statement reads, the new dogfighting team aims to “gather intelligence and information from dog attacks and injured dogs admitted for treatment, with the end goal of successfully prosecuting offenders”.

The SPCA warns the practice of dogfighting may result in the following punishments:

  • Imprisonment: a sentence of imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years, where the court is not the court of a regional division (district court), or not exceeding 15 years, where the court is the court of a regional division.
  • Fine: a fine not exceeding the amount determined by the minister from time to time by notice in the Gazette for the respective courts referred above; this is currently R60 000 for a district court, and R300 000 for a regional court.

Smith says the following signs are indicative of dogfighting, and urges the public to be vigilant:

  • Scars;
  • an overly aggressive temperament;
  • signs of neglect;
  • dogs being periodically taken away from the premises where they are kept; and injuries.
  • To report dogfighting cases, call 107 or 021 480 7700 (from a landline).
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