Durban – Durban dog expert, Grant Smith, believes education is key for both pit bulls and their owners.
Smith said aggressive behaviour in any breed, with the right education, can be altered.
Smith, who runs The Smart Dog- Animal Behaviour and Training Centre, was speaking to IOL on the back of several dog maulings, some fatal, that have taken place across the country in recent weeks.
This week, 15-month-old Reuben le Roux died at the Frere Hospital in the Eastern Cape after he was mauled by a pit bull. IOL reported that Reuben had been sitting outside a property on a Gonubie smallholding when he was attacked. The dog's owner, Noleen Fourie, recalled how she jumped onto the dog and pushed her fingers into its nose to get the dog off the toddler, who had been bitten in the neck.
"With all dogs and all breeds, the owner of the dog needs to understand the breed of the dog and the dog's make up. They must understand why the dog is bred, where its DNA is from, and the purpose of the dog," Smith said.
He explained that people could not simply get a dog and expect the dog to do what they (the owner) want it to do.
"Dogs need to be trained. The owner needs to be trained. The family needs to be trained to make sure the dog is the right dog for the family," he said.
Smith said he had seen positive outcome where power breeds are trained and the owner educated. Smith added that power breeds which are considered to include pit bulls, Rottweilers and Dobermans, need to be trained.
"I believe in educating dogs, and this is a journey that has to be undertaken for the life of the dog," he said.
Smith said there are plenty of training classes offered at K9 schools that are both online and physical so owners can learn at their convenience.
City of Cape Town's JP Smith said while the spotlight is on the management of power breeds in the wake of several incidents around the country in recent weeks, statistics around impounded dogs and dog fighting complaints show that the level of care for the animals involved, but also public safety, is far from adequate.
"Our Animal Control Unit statistics show a clear increase in the number of dogs impounded over the course of this year, but also dog fighting complaints and dockets for investigation into attacks on other animals or people. We reiterate the point that the problem lies with the people in whose care these dogs find themselves," he added.