Pit bull attack revives debate on whether breed must be banned

A pit bull broke free from its leash and mauled a 54-year-old man in Mitchell’s Plain, leaving him unrecognisable. l SUPPLIED

A pit bull broke free from its leash and mauled a 54-year-old man in Mitchell’s Plain, leaving him unrecognisable. l SUPPLIED

Published Jun 15, 2024


Cape Town - The long-standing debate about whether pit bulls should be banned in South Africa is back as various organisations voice their opinions.

This comes after two pit bulls mauled a 54-year-old man in Mitchells Plain a week ago. They tore at Anthony “Anton” Cupido's face, head, and arms, leaving him in a pool of blood and unrecognisable.

The dogs were apparently taken for a walk without any leash by the owner's daughter.

The incident has seen attitudes about the power breed divided once more, as pit bull behaviour is again in the spotlight.

No breed should be banned and the the pit bull should not be singled out, according to the Pit Bull Federation of South Africa. Spokesperson Lehanda Rheeder said this won't solve the problem being witnessed.

“If the government decides to ban the breed, people who are the culprits that are creating the situations between animals and humans will just move on to the next breed,” she said.

Rheeder claims that whether it's a pit bull or Rottweiler or boerboel, if the animal is ill-treated, it will respond in a certain way.

“Animals act because of certain stimuli that they are exposed to, as well as certain treatment. The animal doesn't just bite. It doesn't come out of his yard and bite someone because he feels like it today,” Rheeder said.

Samantha Lee-Jacobs, who owns two pit bulls, Tina, 5, and Max, 4, said the negative association with the breed was due to the cases reported.

“We have raised our dogs to be obedient and disciplined, and we do not abuse or chain them,” she said.

“There is a real fear of this breed; I see it in the way people do not want to even have my dogs walk their way, and it is justified to an extent. But what I have in my control is to make sure my dogs don't have the opportunity to hurt others, or be hurt by ignorance.”

Pit bulls are considered as extremely intelligent, stubborn, high-energy dogs that require mental and physical stimulation, loving human interaction and obedience training to fulfil their potential.

Pit Pals, an organisation passionate about the rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming of pit bulls and other power breeds, claim genetics play a 70% role, with 30% being environmental.

“Genetics play a role, but early and continuous training and socialisation do help give you a balanced dog that is not a danger to society.”

Pit bull breed bans in the nation gained attention in 2022 after the Sizwe Kupelo Foundation urged the government to initiate the ban.

Kupelo, the founder of the foundation, told the Weekend Argus that they stick to their guns when it comes to their stance on pit bulls.

“The government is now well aware of the dangers of this breed. Therefore, we encourage victims to sue the state for the dereliction of duty

“That is an excuse by the owners, the dog is not fit to be kept in a domestic environment,” he said.

The foundation has also started a petition on Change.org, and as of right now, it has 139 811 signatures.

“South Africans supported our call, which was substantiated by facts and numbers,” Kupelo said.

Celeste Solomons, the owner of a 5-year-old Border Collie named Kai, added that she was not a fan of pit bulls as they instil fear in people.

“I think the look scares people, because if I walk down the road and there is a pit bull loose, then I'm automatically scared,” she said.

Tin Can Town, an animal welfare organisation, further calls for a mandatory sterilisation that should be enforced in Cape Town.

“Backyard breeding must be stopped, Indiscriminate breeders and delinquent owners should be fined and sentenced to community service at animal shelters.”

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Weekend Argus

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