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Triggers for pit bull attacks


BAD breeding, poor living conditions, frustration and anxiety could be some of the triggers for pit bull attacks.

Lehanda Rheeder, spokesperson for the Pit Bull Federation of South Africa, said the properly bred American pit bull terrier was a human-friendly dog who loved spending time with his humans.

“They tend to be aggressive towards other animals and especially dogs. They are no more vicious than any other dog breed, but when they bite they can inflict much more damage than the average dog.”

Referring to the recent spate of attacks by pit bulls, Rheeder said there was no single trigger.

“It’s a culmination of events or circumstances that leads up to an attack. One also has to realise that a dog doesn’t just attack.

“There are always warning signs beforehand that are either missed by humans or misinterpreted.

“Bad breeding, poor living conditions, frustration and anxiety are all factors that need to be taken into consideration when looking at this type of behaviour.”

Rheeder said all dog owners needed to realise it was their responsibility to ensure their dogs could not escape their property, even by accident.

“Always secure your dog inside your property with proper fencing and secure lockable gates, and on a proper leash when in public. Make sure you never put your dog in a situation that it feels insecure and needs to defend or protect itself.”

She said it was best not to interfere if your dog attacked another animal.

“Your dog is acting on its instinct and doing what it was genetically put together to do. According to general dog bite prevention, when confronted by a strange or aggressive dog, keep your hands by your side, stand very still and back away slowly. Do not run away, scream or panic and do not make eye contact with the dog.”

Rheeder said in the case of an attack, if available, use nearby objects to redirect the dog’s attention.

“Try to put something between you and the dog (jacket, bag, etc). Should you fall, roll into a ball, covering your neck and ears with your hands and remain motionless as far as possible. Try not to scream,” she said.

Chavel Ramjugath, AKA “The Travelling Dog Trainer”, said it was difficult to give the exact reason why pit bulls attacked people.

“Every single animal responds differently to different stimulus and I think generalising these different situations would create unnecessary panic among the community.

“In my opinion, there is no such thing as a bad dog, just irresponsible dog owners. The lack (or limited amount) of knowledge dog owners have is horrifying and therein lies the problem,” he said.

Ramjugath shared these tips:

◆ Dog owners should begin obedience training and socialisation of their dog at an early age to avoid problems.

◆ Dog owners should ensure that their dogs are not able to escape from their property, by not leaving gates open and ensuring the perimeter fencing is secure.

◆ Call your dog to you and place the dog on a lead (leash). Grabbing a dog that has already decided to bite is dangerous.

◆ Avoid screaming and going to hurt the dog as this will only make things worse.

◆ If you have been bitten by a dog, try to get away from the dog as calmly as possible as that is the best way to diffuse the situation. Colonel Boysie Zungu, spokesperson for Durban metro police, said: “At this stage, there is no specific animal by-law which deals with pit bulls. They are treated like all other dogs, but we encourage owners to ensure they keep those dogs in a safe and fenced premises because we know they are dangerous. We deal with animal nuisance in terms of animal by-laws.

“The procedure we use in the case of a dog attack in public is that we encourage the victim to open a case with the SAPS for keeping a dangerous animal and also assault GBH, depending on the severity of the bite.

“We then issue a notification to the owner of the dog to get rid of the dangerous animal.

“We also report the same to the SPCA to assist with the removal of a dangerous animal. It’s the responsibility of the owner to ensure the public is not affected by their dog,” said Zungu.





African News Agency