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Are Pitbulls just inherently violent dogs?

Goodhope Dlangamandla | goodhope@radioislam.co.za
29 November 2022 | 13:00 PM CAT
2 min read

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A spate of attacks by Pitbulls, which saw at least three children mauled to death in a matter of weeks, has raised questions about the danger this breed of dog poses to society.

Following the fatal instances, owners who did not want to take the chance of keeping their Pitbulls as pets have flooded the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) with Pitbulls.

During Tuesday morning’s interview with Radio Islam International, Dr Quixi Sonntag of the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Veterinary Science discussed whether Pitbulls are naturally vicious.

According to Sonntag, Pitbulls were originally bred to fight with other dogs for people’s entertainment. She emphasised the potential hazard of Pitbulls.

“They have strong jaws; they have low aggression behaviour, which means they do not take a lot to respond to aggressively.”

She claimed that while adequate socialisation and training can help, it would not alter the genetic makeup of the canine breed.

“It is important that dogs are exposed to the correct training and socialisation from an early age because that is when they are susceptible to learning about engaging and interacting with other animals and people.”

There have been recent allegations of pit bulls attacking people, particularly kids.

Since 2004, deadly dog attacks reported in the South African media have been tracked by the non-profit organisation Animals 24-7. Excluding the two deaths this week, there have been 37 Pitbull-related fatalities in the past 18 years.

Five of the deceased this year, making it the worst year ever for child mortality, were among the 18 victims who were children.

Sonntag claims that society is also to blame for the issue in addition to the dog and the owner.

She asserted that there needs to be a conversation between the various parties involved, including Pitbull breeders, owners, the Department of Agriculture, and professional organisations that will emphasise educating the public about how to read a dog’s body language and what to do if you come across an aggressive dog.

“Breeders should also understand how the selection of dogs could affect their behaviour, and owners also need to know how to handle these dogs because certain types of training would exacerbate the problem.”

She said educating people about their role in the larger scheme was essential.

Listen to the full interview with Ml Sulaimaan Ravat and his guest Dr Quixi Sonntag of the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Veterinary Science on Sabahul Muslim.

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