Reporting a surge in the disappearance of animals that end up being used as “Guinea pigs” in dogfights, the Law Enforcement’s Animal Control Unit has asked communities to keep their eyes open and to inform either them or the Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of any suspicious activities that might be linked to dogfighting.
Inspector Mogamat Mullins, who is attached to the Animal Control Unit, sent out this call at a Boerie Braai event hosted by the Belvedere East Civic Association (Beca) at Batavia School on Saturday 4 June.
Giving a talk on the amended Animal Keeping By-Law which was gazetted late last year, Mullins said although the new bylaw gave them more power to act on behalf of animals, without the help of the community, they could not stop the surge in animal disappearances and animals being mistreated.
According to Mullins, criminals steal dogs which they then use against their own dogs to teach them how to fight and to be aggressive.
“Your dog is very friendly, he will come to anyone. So they use that to get the dog. They don’t pay for that dog, it is not their dog. So if the dog is injured or killed…”
Bringing criminals to book
Sharing his experience of a raid held at an Atlantis property last year, Mullins said it was shocking how well-organised these dogfighting events were.
On Saturday 9 October last year at around 20:00, the Cape of Good Hope SPCA and the Animal Control Unit arrested three suspects during a raid on an organised dogfighting event in Saxonsea, Atlantis. Four dogs and various paraphernalia associated with dogfighting was found at the scene and confiscated. The severely injured dogs were taken for veterinary treatment with multiple lacerations and puncture wounds.
“We got information that there was a dog fight in Atlantis. When we got there, it was a thing, you won’t believe it. It was organised perfectly. On the outside, you won’t see it is a dog fight, only when you go inside the property you will see it is a dog fight.”
This case is currently before the Atlantis Magistrates’ Court pending trial.
Thanks to a video tip-off, another arrest was made this month. This time at a property in Ocean View. Armed with a warrant, SPCA officials removed three pit bulls from the property on Friday 10 June.
“The suspect was arrested with the assistance of the Animal Control Unit and will face charges relating to the Contravention of section 2 of the Animals Protection,” the SPCA said.
Further proof that communities can make a huge difference in the fight against animal cruelty was made evident last week when the Cape of Good Hope SPCA reported that during the period Monday 1 June last year to Tuesday 31 May this year, they investigated over 70 cases of dogfighting reported by the public.
“This is an increase in cases from the previous reporting period. Our team has also conducted 14 proactive interventions in various ‘hotspot’ areas within the City of Cape Town to educate the communities on dogfighting and the negative impact it has on our communities and youth,” an SPCA media statement read.
Guilty by association
Dogfighting is illegal in South Africa.
According to the City, a person found guilty for any involvement in dogfighting is liable for a fine of R80 000 and/or imprisonment of up to 24 months with a criminal record.
It is a crime to be involved in any way with the fighting of animals or to own, keep, train or breed animals used for fighting. It is also illegal to buy, sell or import these animals. Moreover, it is a criminal offence to incite, encourage or allow any animal to attack another animal or proceed to fight and it is a crime to promote animal fighting for monetary gain or entertainment.
It is also considered a crime to allow any one of these activities to take place on a property you own, live on or have control of.
It is a crime to watch dogfighting, as is being on the same property where dogfighting is taking place.
In March, a joint anti-dogfighting team was established after the Cape Animal Welfare Forum engaged the City with their concerns around organised and informal dogfighting in the province.
The team, whose mandate is to tackle dogfighting and deal with canine attacks on people and animals, comprises City Law Enforcement Animal Control officers, welfare inspectors from the SPCA, and members of the Safety and Security Investigations Unit (SSIU).
Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith said the barbaric activity of dog fighting was rife across the metropole.
“Often the only time this dark issue comes to light, is when a resident has enough courage or compassion for the animals involved to call authorities,” said Smith.