Hangberg is a dogfighting hot spot, but it’s hard to stamp out the crime because those who know where it’s happening and who is involved fear speaking out, says the SPCA.
A man, who would only give his name as Kenny, as he fears intimidation from the community, told the Sentinel how he watched his family dog being mauled to death two months ago by a pit bull he believes was bred for dogfighting.
He had just returned from walking his 5-year-old German shepherd before being attacked on an open field in Hangberg.
“There are some guys who are breeding the dogs for one reason because my dog stood no chance,” he said. “He latched onto his neck, and within two or three bites, it was over. I don’t know where it is happening, but it’s happening.”
He added: “I have heard of many other dogs falling prey and victim to these animals.”
Earlier last month, Joe Schwach was walking his 7-year-old Jack Russell, Jozi, on Chapman’s Peak when he was forced to watch Jozi being attacked and mauled to death by two pit bulls.
“My wife and I were walking down Chapman’s Peak Drive with Jozi on the leash when a dog walker with two strong pit bull terriers, one black and one light brown. My wife went to the other side of the road to avoid them, but the pit bulls got out of their loose collars easily and ran to the side of the road where my wife walked with our Jack,“ he said in a detailed letter to Sentinel News.
Mr Schwach’s wife grabbed Jozi, holding the dog’s head high, but one of the pit bulls jumped and bit into Jozi’s right flank, pulling the dog to the ground.
“The black dog also came immediately and bit her into her soft underbelly. I jumped onto the black pit bull at once to open his jaws. The jaws were locked into Jozi’s hind leg. My wife did the same with the other dog.”
According to Mr Schwach, Jozi was rushed to Hout Bay Veterinary Hospital for emergency treatment before being taken to the Cape Animal Hospital in Kenilworth where the dog died of its injuries.
“Dog owners in Hout Bay, beware of these killer dogs. Take extreme care if you encounter them.”
Mr Schwach told the Sentinel that he was in the process of opening a case.
Hout Bay police confirmed that an incident of dogfighting at a house in the area had been reported recently but had been forwarded to City Law Enforcement as it was a by-law infringement.
Cape of Good Hope SPCA spokeswoman Belinda Abraham said they were struggling to tackle dogfighting in Hangberg because incidents went unreported.
“The area is flagged as a hot spot area for dogfighting, but the community are too fearful to come forward with information.”
Dogfighting is illegal in South Africa, and anyone found guilty of involvement in the crime can be fined up to R80 000, jailed for up to two years or both.
“It is a crime to be involved in any manner with the fighting of animals or to own, keep, train or breed animals used for fighting. It is also illegal to buy, sell or import these animals. Moreover, it is a criminal offence to incite/encourage or allow any animal to attack another animal or proceed to fight and it is a crime to promote animal fighting for monetary gain or entertainment. It is also considered a crime to allow any one of these activities to take place on a property you own, live on or have control of. It is a crime to watch dogfighting as is being on the same property where dog fighting is taking place,” Ms Abraham said.
Earlier this year, the Cape of Good Hope SPCA and City Law Enforcement joined forces in a campaign to eradicate dogfighting in Cape Town.
“We work closely with Law Enforcement and regularly do outreach work in high-deprivation areas where dogfighting is rife,” Ms Abraham said.
Ward councillor Roberto Quintas said dogfighting was part of the criminal economy, along with drugs and poaching, that made life difficult for law-abiding and peaceful residents in Hangberg. He urged anyone with information to contact Law Enforcement or the SPCA.
The SPCA offers a R5000 reward for information that leads to the conviction of someone involved in dogfighting. The organisation stresses that it will never reveal the identity of a complainant and that cruelty reports can be made in strict confidence by email to email@example.com or by phone to 0217004158/9 during office hours. You can also report cruelty online at https://capespca.co.za/report-cruelty/ or by calling the after-hour number, 083 326 1604.