Johannesburg – The SPCA in Bloemfontein says 49 pit bulls have been surrendered by dog owners this week.
This follows the death of an 8-year-old child in Vista Park, Bloemfontein, who was mauled to death by the vicious animal at the weekend.
A public interest lawyer has since warned that owners of vicious animals such as pit bulls could be liable for any harm caused by their pets.
The police had to shoot a pit bull dead after it allegedly jumped over the fence and attacked the boy who was playing in his yard in Vista Park.
Bloem SPCA spokesperson Keshvi Nair told the SABC News on Tuesday that 49 pit bulls had been surrendered this week.
“When it comes to owners surrendering the animals, the SPCA is not there to judge anyone for why they no longer want to keep the animal, our doors are open to accept and admit any animal at any hour of the day, that is our job, we are there to protect the animals,” she said.
Nair said the SPCA would never turn away any animals that were surrendered to them by owners as it was their responsibility to look after the best interests of the animals.
She said if the dogs were unwanted, sick or injured, they would always take them in.
“The surrender of a large number of animals at one go is not something new to us. We see it on a daily basis with dogs, cats and farm animals.
“What happens when an animal is surrendered is that each animal is given an equal opportunity.
“We assess each animal and a decision is made on the best interest of each animal,” she said.
Speaking on how owners could be held accountable for their animals, Nair said it was the owner's responsibility if the dogs or animals attacked people.
“Ultimately, the owner must be held accountable when a dog attacks someone.
“People deserve to feel safe, people deserve to walk the streets freely and the only way we are going to get around to that, is if we hold owners accountable when attacks occur,” she said.
Nair although dogs that attacked people were usually euthanised, it did not solve the problem as the owner could get another animal and also mishandle it.
She also said they supported the idea of permits for people to keep dangerous animals.