Last week, the NSPCA was alerted to a pitbull attack which sadly claimed the life of the victim. The owner of the pitbulls agreed to surrender all five of his dogs to the SPCA.
It is important to note that the role of the SPCA movement is to protect and prevent animals from cruelty and suffering. Ours is to act in the best interests of animals. In this unfortunate instance, the NSPCA was once again expected to clean up the mess caused by irresponsible ownership as well as do the dirty work of other authorities who we believe are failing to enforce their mandate.
As a result of the state failing to adequately enforce their mandate, the NSPCA had to step in and make the necessary arrangements for the animals. This included ensuring that the dogs were signed over by the owner, procuring a private veterinarian and incurring the costs to humanely euthanize the dogs (as there is no SPCA in Vryburg) as well as transporting the carcasses to the state laboratory. None of the aforementioned services are the responsibility of the NSPCA and should have been carried out by the state.
Our SPCA officials further exposed themselves to the risk of working with aggressive animals as well as exposure to the possible rabies disease in order to protect those animals when nobody else would.
After careful consideration by all the authorities involved, the three dogs involved in the attack were humanely euthanized. Apart from the dogs having a history of human aggression and posing a serious danger to people and other animals, there was also a rabies concern expressed by the state
The NSPCA also recognized the threat of a revenge attack against the owner and the dogs by the community as a major welfare concern.
Powerbreeds in the wrong hands are a recipe for disaster. It is often found that the animal and innocent people are the ones who ultimately pay the price for irresponsible ownership.
All dog owners should be aware of a judgement handed down from the Supreme Court of Appeal in the Eastern Cape that has major implications on the rights and responsibilities of dog owners in South Africa.
The judgement, which was handed down on Friday the 11 September 2020, upheld the legal principle which holds that the owner of a domesticated animal is held strictly liable for harm caused by that animal and that the injured party does not have to prove negligence on their part and a victim of a dog bite can claim damages from a dog owner without having to prove fault.
In its ruling, the SCA said that there are only three recognised defences to such a claim:
- That the injured party was in a place where they had no right to be;
- The animal was provoked either by the injured party or a third party;
- That custody and control of the animal has passed to a third party who negligently failed to prevent the animal from causing the harm.
The case will now be handled by the local SAPS.