Johannesburg – Much negativity has been expressed on various media platforms over the last few weeks regarding Pitbulls and I am guessing, most of it by people who either have never owned a Pitbull or even touched or spent time with one.
Hatred has been spread and divided a country’s citizens even more than what it sadly already is.
More than 70 000 people have signed a petition calling for Pitbulls to be banned. What gives them the right to decide the fate of an entire breed and judge all Pitbull owners?
There are tens of thousands of Pitbull owners who have done right by their pets. Owners who did not buy from illegal backyard breeders, whose dogs are sterilised, socialised, trained and upstanding canine citizens. Owners who can provide veterinarian care and a suitable property to keep their dogs. Owners and families who adore and love their Pitbulls. Owners who have done their homework and are breed-educated.
Not everyone can drive a Ferrari and the same applies to dog ownership. It is not just how a dog is raised but also understanding and knowing how to work with a breed’s specific traits, genetics and characteristics.
Pitbulls, as with Huskies, need a minimum of eight-foot walls to keep them safe and contained. A backyard breeder does not convey this to his client. They sell these dogs to anyone who “wants a Pitbull” and walk away. More often than not, these dogs are chained or closed into small enclosures, with zip exercise or mental stimulation, because they are now jumping the too low fence.
Remember how you felt during lockdown? The frustration, the boredom. That was only three weeks. Imagine spending a lifetime confined? Bottom-line competency, breed education and being responsible.
Too many people get pets for the wrong reasons.
One needs to compare apples with apples, and quite frankly, I do not believe that the petition to ban Pitbulls is doing that. I do not believe that it is fair and just. What exactly is the aim? To sterilize and then to put all Pitbulls in a zoo?
In my opinion, there is no need for a new law. All that is needed is a zero-tolerance enforcement of the existing legislation of the Animal Protection Act, which is enforceable not just by welfare organisations, Dog Control Metro Police, but also by the SA Police Service (SAPS).
If this law is enforced, backyard breeders who are pumping puppies out in shocking conditions, often with female dogs on chains – that are literally raped – give birth and nurse the puppies while on a chain, will (should) be prosecuted.
That will (should) be the end of their cruel business. Do this, and the problem created by people, will go away. Dogs that should never have been born, as they were illegally bred, will not be. The “stock” provided to the wrong homes will not be available.
Selling of these backyard-bred puppies without the relevant business zoning of the property and a hawker’s licence, as well as not declaring the income to the SA Revenue Service (Sars), must be addressed and the transgressors prosecuted.
Law enforcement has been way to complacent.
The bottom line remains competency and responsibility. You will not be able to adopt a dog from a reputable welfare organisation without a premises check to ensure that your property is suitable for the type of dog or breed you wish to adopt. You will be educated on the dog’s needs and requirements. You will not go blindly into something you have no idea about.
Backyard breeders produce, they sell, they walk away, and welfare picks up the broken pieces, families left devastated, parents heartbroken.
Yes, I and other responsible and competent pet owners and welfare organisations fully agree that all pets have to be neutered and spayed. In fact, we have been sitting in meetings with council ad nauseum for years, but nothing came of it. Now we have a rabies outbreak and injured adults and dead children. How will this be enforced if backyard breeding is not declared illegal and prosecuted?
In the Port Elizabeth Metro, it is illegal to breed with your pets unless you have written permission from the metro. There are no legal Pitbull breeders in our metro, yet there are social media groups and pages selling puppies by the thousands. We have a dedicated municipal department mandated to “police” this.
If this is not happening, it needs to happen. As the Manguang Metro now realise, it is time to start enforcing our existing by-laws. The innocent are suffering.
Most dog bites involve dogs that are not neutered or spayed, and the most common motivation for dog bites is fear or territorial matters. Owners need to be held accountable for their dogs’ behaviour.
We will be a better society, and our children will learn compassion and the difference between right and wrong.
On the topic of children:
- PRETORIA, 22 August 2022 – “243 children murdered in South Africa between April and June 2022. A further 1,670 children were victims of grievous bodily harm”
- SOUTH AFRICA, 18 February 2022 – “More than 350 children murdered in South Africa between October & December 2021”
According to the South African crime statistics app, 71 people are murdered per day, 23 of them by firearms. Now that is a fight worth fighting.
Why pick on an entire dog breed and, in the process, victimise the innocent who have done right by their dogs and truly love and treat them as valued pets?
If you want to make a difference, get petitions going for zero-tolerance law enforcement, the death penalty to be reinstated and committed law enforcement on the Animal Protection Act, including a total ban on backyard breeding of all breeds.
That will create a healthy environment for our children to grow up in and live safely. The current fear-mongering is creating chaos and leading to further animal cruelty. The guilty will go underground, and our children will be even less safe.
Marizanne Kemp-Ferreira is an animal activist and a volunteer for the Animal Welfare Society Port Elizabeth and the SPCA, Uitenhage and Monkey Matters Eastern Cape. The views expressed here are her own.