Pit bull ends man’s life

Nazeem Said.

The family of a Hangberg father mauled by a pit bull earlier this month is still trying to come to terms with his death.

Nazeem Said, 38, tragically succumbed to his injuries after being bitten on his leg and arm by the dog on Wednesday January 3.

According to his mother, Abeda Said, he had been looking after the dog on behalf of a friend, whose accommodation in Hangberg was too small to house the animal.

“The dog had been with him for two months already. He would often walk it, and that morning had decided to walk it again. I was visiting with my sister when my other son called me to tell me that he had been bitten, and he had gone to the Hout Bay fire station for treatment.”

Fire fighters at the station are trained in basic paramedics and frequently treat injured victims.

When Ms Said arrived at the station, she saw that her son was being attended to by medics.

“They were doing CPR, but I had a feeling he was no longer with us.”

Ms Said subsequently learnt that in fact it was the second time he had been at the station that morning.

“I was told by neighbours that soon after he was bitten he had gone to the fire station for treatment. However, because the medics were busy, he had decided not to wait for treatment and went home.

“I was told he got into a taxi on Harbour Road, asking to be taken back home. When he arrived, he was battling to move in the back of the taxi. Someone from the community tried to get him out of the taxi, but when he felt him he couldn’t feel a pulse, so that person asked the taxi driver to rush him back to the fire station.”

Unfortunately, it was too late for Mr Said.

Ms Said is still awaiting the results of the autopsy, and did not wish to speculate on the exact cause of death. “Maybe the pain of the bites was too much for his heart,” she said.

Ms Said said she could not blame the dog’s owner for the tragedy. “He has asked if there is anything he can do for the family, and the whole community has been very supportive.

“My son, who was a boat builder by profession, was very popular with people. Everyone came to pay their respects.”

She said she wasn’t certain what had happened to the dog, but was aware that “someone” had come to take it away.

“My son stayed in the flat below me, and I hardly heard the dog barking. It wasn’t aggressive. On one occasion it got hooked on a fence by the collar, but allowed a resident to free it without any problems.”

Ms Said said his three children, aged 15, 13 and four, could not believe their father was no longer with them. “They feel as if he will still come back,” she said.

While Hangberg is known as a dog-fighting hot spot, Ms Said told Sentinel News there were many residents who owned pit bulls which were often walked by their owners.

“My son owned a pit bull himself, but what I don’t like is the dogs that are made to fight with each other,” she said.

Fire and rescue spokesperson Theo Layne confirmed that CPR was administered to Mr Said but it proved futile. “There were dog bites to his left leg and left arm,” he said.

SPCA spokesperson, Tara McGovern, said the organisation’s inspectorate had no knowledge of the incident and that there was no record that the animal had been brought to the SPCA.

However, the SPCA urged people to choose their dog breeds responsibly.

“The prevalence of backyard breeding across our country is causing an influx of unwanted animals, with these dogs having been bred without any consideration given to temperament and health issues. Due to the popularity of certain power breeds being exploited for use in illicit dog fighting syndicates, many litters are bred resulting in an increased number of animals with behavioural issues that could pose a threat in the wrong hands,” she said.

“Research and understand the breed, train and socialise your animals using only positive reinforcement training methods, ensure that your dog’s welfare needs are met and ensure that you always supervise animal and child interactions.”

Several questions needed to be asked in the event of a dog attacking a human, she said. These included:

* Has the dog been given adequate social interaction with both humans and other dogs from a young age?

* Is the dog sterilised? Specifically in male dogs the act of neutering reduces aggression and the likelihood of roaming from home.

* Do you know the history of the dog in terms of breeding history and any previous cruelty it may have encountered leading to behavioural issues?

* Is the dog fed regularly?

* Is the dog exercised regularly in order to expend any pent-up energy?

* Is the dog up to date with its yearly vaccinations including rabies shots?

“In order to have a well-balanced animal that is no threat to its owners of community the onus is on pet owners to ensure the well-being of their dogs. This would include adequate shelter, food, water, socialisation and positive reinforcement training,” said Ms McGovern.