Government silent as petition launched to ban pit bulls in South AfricaNovember 25, 2022
The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has remained silent over the mounting calls to impose a ban on pit bulls.
Calls to ban pit bulls
There have been calls to either ban or change regulations when it comes to owning pit bulls in the wake of incidents where children were mauled to death by the dogs.
Since November, there have been four reported attacks where minors were mauled to death by the breed.
The incidents led to the Sizwe Kupelo Foundation (SKF) launching a petition two months ago to have the department ban the ownership of pit bulls. It has over 126 485 signatures calling for the department to take action.
Speaking to The Citizen, the department’s spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo said they have been in communication with the foundation and they are yet to receive the petition.
Until they do, he said they cannot comment on the petition because they do not know its contents. This is despite the petition being accessible online.
“Once we get the petition, we will have to see what is in the petition, then we will respond to that. Now we do not even know what is in the petition that we would respond to,” said Ngcobo.
However, the founder of SKF, Sizwe Kupelo, has been waiting for the department to give them a date hand over the petition.
“We have sent a request to the office of the minister [Thoko Didiza] requesting a date for the delivery of the petition. We have been engaging and last week we sent another reminder, they have not yet given us a date.
“We did not want to just go there and arrive unannounced, we want to be as professional about this, we gave them the courtesy for them to give us a date when the minister would be available to accept the petition,” Kupelo said.
Ngcobo said if the petition requires them to promulgate new regulations in terms of the Animal Protection Act, they will look into it and reply accordingly.
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Surrender of pit bulls
The attacks led to people all over the country surrendering their pit bulls to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty (SPCA). The SPCA is now carrying the burden of expenses caused by irresponsible people.
The society is not receiving any funding from the government to feed and house these animals.
SPCA spokesperson Keshvi Nair said they reached out to the department on Wednesday, by sending them a letter, to outline their plans and strategies to curb the attacks.
“We have not yet received feedback just yet, we just want to know what their plan is with regards to this issue. It has been widely publicised, we have been speaking about this for a very long time,” said Nair.
Ngcobo, however, told The Citizen on Thursday that the department has not received any communication from the SPCA.
“If they have an issue they will come to us. We always engage with them, so in this case they have not said anything to us. Normally they communicate if there is an issue, so far they have not communicated,” said Ngcobo.
It has been widely debated whether the issue lies with the dog breed – which has a reputation for being aggressive – or the owners who seem to be clueless about pit bulls.
“Even the most well-trained and well-looked after pit bulls have the capacity to attack and cause damage if certain conditions and stimuli are present. It is not just animals that are kept on chains or in cages that have the potential to attack, it is also dogs that are looked after and are loved,” explained Nair.
Ngcobo said they are in communication with the Pit Bull Federation of South Africa, as they suspect the problem lies with the breed.
“We have met with the pit bull breeders association, just to establish with them what would be the problem. Maybe it is the behaviour and they are working with us in terms of giving us information.
“We will be able to look at the information and see whether there is anything that can be done in terms of breeding. Pit bulls have never created problems in the past, so much that they kill people,” said Ngcobo.
The SPCA is not in support of the petition to ban the pit bulls, but is calling for the implementation of stronger regulations for owning the dogs.
Nair said evidence from other countries shows that imposing a ban does not necessarily reduce the number of pit bull attacks.
“When we speak about these regulations, we are speaking about compulsory sterilisation and castration of the animals, as well as permitting.
“So if you want this animal, there needs to be some form of accountability and responsibility with owners. Where did you get the dog from? What are you going to use the dog for? Where are you going to keep the dog? Is the property you have adequate for the dog,” Nair said.
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