In recent months, South Africans have increasingly demanded that Pit bulls be banned as pets in the country. This follows reports of an increase in bulldog attack cases, many of which led to deaths or serious injuries to children.
According to studies, South Africa has one of the highest rates of dog attack-related deaths per capita in the world. In October, two family-owned pit bulls killed a 10-year-old boy by mauling him to death, and this past weekend, an eight-year-old child was mauled to death.
An online petition to outlaw pit bulls as domestic pets in South Africa has received more than 50,000 signatures. According to the petition's sponsor, the Sizwe Kupelo Foundation, the push for a ban was necessitated by the attacks, which seem to continue unabated.
The Sizwe Kupelo Foundation has demanded an immediate ban on pit bulls as domestic pets in the country following many allegations of assaults in 2022. The recent attack in Nelson Mandela Bay, in which a 10-year-old was killed by his family's two pit bulls, forced authorities to make the call.
The foundation stated, "These attacks continue and are increasing, and we cannot keep losing children and defenseless civilians to these vicious dogs, who have repeatedly demonstrated that they should not be kept as pets."
A number of countries, including Finland, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Portugal, and others, have outlawed ownership of the breed and placed limitations on its importation. Sizwe Kupelo, the founder and patron of the charity, has urged the South African government to take similar action.
However, counter-petitioners fighting to preserve their animals claim that pit bulls are not the issue. Crossbreeds that resemble thoroughbred American pit bull terriers, not purebred pit bulls, were responsible for the slaughter of people. The problem comes from backyard breeders who produce them without adequate knowledge. Some of the Pit Bulls people are buying are a cross between a Pit Bull and a Boerboel; despite appearances, they are not Pit Bulls.
Lehanda Rheeder, the spokesperson for the Pit Bull Federation of South Africa (PBFSA), asserted that while all dogs can be aggressive toward people, this hostility is not a breed issue but rather a human issue. According to Rheeder in an interview with SAfm, "the pit bull is one of many dog breeds that have been bred to have an aggressive temperament, but it was intended to be towards other animals, not humans."
She continued by saying that the issue arises when that propensity for aggression is directed toward people by other people, such as when a dog is trained to be a guard dog or for dog fighting, which is still widely practiced in South Africa.
According to Rheeder, if Pit bulls are bred and maintained in a sound and stable environment, like the American Pit Bull Terrier and other breeds, they are more likely than not to make loving and devoted pets.
However, Kupelo strongly disagrees and states that Rheeder is mistaken. He asserts that a pit bull is not a domestic pet and should not be one of the many different breeds that South Africans are permitted to keep. "Pit bulls have murdered so many people minding their own business, including joggers," Kupelo continued.
Additionally, Kupelo recommended that the government take into account licensing for particular breeds, such as pit bulls, boerboels, and rottweilers. He went a step further and suggested that the police department receive all remaining pit bulls to use in crime situations.