Are pit bulls safe as pets?

Ken Lindeboom plays with his pit bull, Blaze, at his home in Merrivale on Thursday.
Ken Lindeboom plays with his pit bull, Blaze, at his home in Merrivale on Thursday.
Ian Carbutt

Pietermaritzburg - Should pit bulls be banned as pets?

This was the question that Witness readers were debating online on Thursday.

The call for pit bulls to be banned as pets surfaced after two young siblings, a girl (6) and a boy (3), were attacked by their family dog in Durban during the weekend. The girl died of her injuries.

Spokesperson for Rescue Care, Garrith Jamieson, who attended the scene, said he believed the dog that attacked the siblings was a “mixed breed of pit bull and another breed”.

He said the dog was taken by the SPCA and was later put down.

Ken Lindeboom, a dog lover and pit bull owner from Merrivale, said the call to ban pit bulls was “absolute rubbish”.

“If pit bulls are banned, I suggest all dogs be banned. You will have to take my pit bull out of my cold, dead hands,” said Lindeboom.

Lindeboom said his two-year-old pit bull named Blaze “was a gentle and caring dog”.

“Blaze is not a guard dog, he is like my brother,” said Lindeboom.

He said that since his twin daughters were born, Blaze has been protecting them, teaching them how to crawl and making sure they do not fall off the couch.

“I would rather my dog look after my children than a stranger.

“People need to understand that it all boils down to how they treat and train their dogs,” explained Lindeboom.

A professional dog instructor from Hilton, Adrienne Olivier, said pit bulls should not be banned as any breed of dogs could be aggressive or vicious.

Olivier said the first few months of a dog’s life were very sensitive and advised new dog owners to take their dogs for socialisation classes.

“Socialisation classes help familiarise a dog to other dogs and people.

“If a dog is tied up and has minimal interaction with humans, it becomes frustrated and aggressive, which could ultimately lead them to attack,” she said.

Olivier emphasised that socialising a dog was very important because they may not know how to react when they are around people, especially children.

“The incident where the child ended up losing her life is very tragic but is evident that dogs should be kept in a human environment and not chained up like animals,” said Olivier.

Facebook users had mixed reactions about banning pit bulls:

Kabir Sangham said “Pit bulls are amazing loving dogs when raised correctly. It’s irresponsible people that do not understand the breed that are the real problem.”

Tarryn Stewart wrote, “So sick of people blaming dogs. It’s about how you bring up your pets and how you teach your children to respect animals too. Any dog can attack a child, not just pit bulls.”

Karryn Pillay Wentzel said, “We seem to be forgetting that a child’s life was lost! At the end of the day no matter what anyone says that pit bull or Rotti [Rottweiler] is still an animal that can lose control at any time.”

Nkosi Siphesihle Makhathini wrote, “These killers belong in the wild because worst case scenario if they’re mishandled they kill. What kind of pet is that?”

Sandra Sharkey said, “I don’t think they should be banned. We just need to make sure that if pits are our choice of dog, we treat them with the love and respect of any other family member. People are just as temperamental as these pits.”

Shaina Abdullah wrote, “This is devastating and my heart goes out to her family. Many people don’t realise that it’s not about just buying a dog and buying food for it. Yes, they protect you but it is your responsibility to train and socialise dogs.” — Witness Reporter.

For those who would like to know more about socialising their dogs they can contact Adrienne Olivier at 033 347 2915 or 083 636 0891

Or visit

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