Pit bull own­ers urged to leash in their dogs af­ter baby’s tragic death

Saturday Star - - NEWS - SHAUN SMIL­LIE RABBIE SERUMULA

LOR­RAINE Brown had sec­onds to act if she was to save her neigh­bour’s life. Mo­ments ear­lier she had heard her neigh­bour’s fran­tic screams.

What the 64-year-old Florida Lake, Rood­e­poort, woman saw when she went to in­ves­ti­gate was hor­ri­fy­ing: her neigh­bour strug­gling down her drive­way with two pit bull ter­ri­ers hang­ing on to her.

Brown made a dash into her home and grabbed a Taser.

“I put my hand through the pal­isades and tasered the dogs but the de­vice had no ef­fect on them. It was then that one of the dogs grabbed my hand.”

Lor­raine’s hus­band Ge­orge ran to the house and fetched the cou­ple’s .357 Mag­num re­volver.

Brown took the firearm from her hus­band and as one of the dogs made a rush for her, she pushed the bar­rel through the pal­isades.

“I man­aged to shove the bar­rel into the dog’s mouth and pulled the trig­ger.”

Brown saw the other dog go­ing for the woman’s face, she fired a sec­ond shot, and killed it too.

The neigh­bour was hos­pi­talised and Brown had a flesh wound on her hand. Both have since re­cov­ered.

This in­ci­dent hap­pened in July and, while se­ri­ous, was not fa­tal.

But this was not the case this week when 6-month-old baby Cal­lum was mauled to death by a pit bull at his grand­mother’s house in Fourth Av­enue, Prim­rose. His maul­ing has been one of many in­volv­ing pit bulls re­cently. In Septem­ber, a 4-mon­thold baby was dragged from bed and mauled to death in Ravens­mead, Cape Town.

In July, Gemma Mad­den was mauled on the eve of her 10th birth­day in­side her Hill­crest home in Dur­ban.

In Jan­uary, a fam­ily’s pit bull turned on sib­lings, killing one, 3-yearold Es­lene Naidoo, and crit­i­cally in­jur­ing her 6-year-old sis­ter Talia in Mayville, Dur­ban.

The NSPCA said there have been an in­creased num­ber of at­tacks on hu­mans by pit bulls.

“In some cases, the own­ers are aware of ag­gres­sive be­hav­iour and do lit­tle to noth­ing to en­sure that the an­i­mal and the peo­ple that the an­i­mal comes into con­tact with are safe,” the NSPCA said.

The An­i­mal Be­hav­iour Con­sul­tants of South Africa said the dog’s breed was also im­por­tant.

“As with any pow­er­ful breed of dog, it is im­per­a­tive that the per­son re­spon­si­ble for the dog is knowl­edge­able and skilled in terms of man­ag­ing the dog and their en­vi­ron­ment ac­cord­ingly.”

The NSPCA pointed out that pit bulls were usu­ally in­cred­i­bly loyal dogs. The an­i­mal wel­fare or­gan­i­sa­tion said that if a pit bull was in­volved in an at­tack, usu­ally charges were laid in ac­cor­dance with the An­i­mal Mat­ters Amend­ment Act, and it was up to the court to de­cide what hap­pened to the dog.

Ac­cord­ing to law firm DSC At­tor­neys, the coun­try has the high­est in­ci­dence of dog at­tacks on hu­mans than any other in the world.

Kirstie Haslam, a part­ner in the firm, said dog bites ac­counted for 76% to 94% of an­i­mal bite in­juries, and dog bite fa­tal­i­ties were higher be­cause of a lack of post-ex­po­sure treat­ment and ap­pro­pri­ate ac­cess to health­care.

The An­i­mal Be­hav­iour Con­sul­tants of SA said that to limit the risk of dog at­tacks on hu­mans, own­ers should se­lects breeds with non-ag­gres­sive tem­per­a­ments and learn to han­dle the an­i­mal prop­erly.

Six months af­ter Brown shot the two pit bulls, her fam­ily see the lighter side of the in­ci­dent.

“When last did you shoot a pit bull?” her nieces jok­ingly ask. To them she is the badass aunty.

Cal­lum Kruger There has been a wor­ry­ing in­crease in the in­ci­dence of pit bull at­tacks on hu­mans, ac­cord­ing to the NSPCA. This week a 6-month-old baby died in one such at­tack at her grand­mother’s home in Prim­rose, Ekurhu­leni.

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