Dangerous dogs: what you can do
The savage attack by two dogs on an 11-year-old boy from Joodsekamp in Knysna has shaken local residents to the core and highlighted the fact that for some, living among dangerous animals is a daily reality.
But what do you do when you face such a threat?
In light of these recent events, the KnysnaPlett Herald thought it fitting to bring readers “news you can use” on the subject.
News you can use
According to Knysna Municipality spokesperson Christopher Bezuidenhout, there is a bylaw that deals with the keeping of dogs, including dangerous dogs and a definition of what a “dangerous dog” entails.
“The bylaw is not breed-specific… Our bylaw clearly sets out the manner in which dogs must be kept and contains specific provisions for control of ferocious, vicious or dangerous dogs (Section 8 of the bylaw). Once a dog has been classified as dangerous in terms of the bylaw, the restrictions set out in Section 12 applies to such a dog,” he says.
Where to access the bylaw
The bylaw can be found on the municipality’s website and is titled Knysna Municipality Bylaw Relating to the Keeping of Dogs.
Bezuidenhout urges the public to report dogs they believe fit the definition of “dangerous dog” to the municipal law enforcement department. “They will investigate the matter. Such an investigation will include inspection of the property to establish the manner in which the dog is kept and/or controlled and if fencing of the property is in place. The municipality may seize, impound/terminate dogs as provided for in Clause 15 of the bylaw,” says Bezuidenhout.
Any person who contravenes any provision of the bylaw is guilty of an offence, he says, and liable upon conviction of a fine or imprisonment as provided for in the bylaw.
Local animal trainer and behaviourist Karis Nafte of Happy Dogs offers some ideas for keeping safe when chased by a dog:
What you can do
Although difficult, try as much as possible to not panic.
Normally dogs don’t bark if they intend to bite you – barking is a warning to stay away or to tell the rest of the “pack” that you have been spotted. If a dog runs at you barking, remember that he is not planning to bite you at that point. The best thing to do is to try and relax the dog. Very important: Do
not shout or threaten the dog with a stick! If you do that you are escalating the situation and giving the dog a reason to change tactics
and potentially bite you.
Stop, stand still and look up at the sky or down at your feet. Whatever you do don’t stare the dog in the eye and try to intimidate him.
Take a deep breath, relax your shoulders, and turn away from the dog.
Teach small children when faced with a barking dog to turn toward any wall, hug their arms in close and lean into the wall so their chest and face are not exposed. Better still is to “hug a tree” or a pole. It’s much safer if children can stay upright, keep their faces hidden and be still. Holding onto something can help keep them more out of harm’s way. Running can be lethal
The worst thing for children to do is run as that makes them more exciting to the dog. Many dog bites could have been avoided if children (and adults) could be still, quiet, and keep their faces hidden.
“If you are in the rare situation where a dog runs at you in an aggressive fashion and is not barking, that is when things are more likely to get dangerous and that is an emergency. You are unlikely to be able to stop such a dog by appearing scary,” adds Nafte.
She says a dog charging silently is already bold and intending to cause harm and suggests that in such a case you should try to climb a tree or a wall if possible. “Do anything you can to put something between you and the dog,” she says.
Hold something, such as a jacket, in front of your arm. “Hopefully the dog will bite that instead. Try to keep your arms covering your face so if the dog does bite he gets the outside of your arms.” Where to report
* Please report any contraventions of the municipal by-law immediately to Law Enforcement on 044 302 6551.