Editorial | Owners of ‘power breeds’ take heed

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This week’s reports of a Port Elizabeth man and a Durban woman who both were mauled to death by dogs have been horrifying reading.

Tragically, neither death is in isolation as there have been several fatal dog attacks across the country this year already.

Pitbulls are seen as the thugs of the dog world but any “power breed” – such as rottweilers, boerboels, bull terriers and others – can inflict savage injuries.

Animals which have been bred and raised for dog fighting are a particular risk due to the aggression their owners have encouraged and instilled in them. What is the answer? There are always calls to ban pitbulls after a tragedy such as this, an idea which carries a number of pitfalls.

There is, though, a clear need for more stringent guidelines and policing on dog ownership – not only those specifically bred for fighting but also any rescue dog with a history of biting or aggression towards humans.
Owners: you need to take responsibility for securing your dogs adequately to safeguard innocent people. If you can’t, your right to own a dangerous dog should be revoked.

The Pitbull Federation of South Africa is on record as saying that, should a dog kill a human being, its owner should be charged with culpable homicide.

In other words, if you cannot secure a power breed of dog correctly, then you must face the consequences should there be an attack.

We can only agree. Two people died this week, both in the most gruesome and unnecessary circumstances.

In the same way that a gun owner may be charged with, for example, culpable homicide if his or her firearm is used to kill someone, so too should dog owners face similar sanctions.

There must be stiff penalties for their animals’ actions. A power breed unchecked is like leaving a loaded gun lying around.