Pubdate: Sat, 03 Nov 2007
Source: Cape Argus (South Africa)
Copyright: 2007 Cape Argus.
Author: Helen Bamford


In a new craze sweeping Ocean View, tik-fuelled youngsters go
"hunting" with their pitbulls, searching for vulnerable targets -
canine or human.

A number of residents have been badly bitten in recent weeks, while
there have been numerous cases of pitbulls entering homes and seeking
out people's pets.

One small dog was dragged from under a bed, another was pulled
underneath a gate and had its throat ripped out.

"It's a new sport in Ocean View," said Sylvia Shortreed, a vet at the
welfare group Tears, who has also treated dogs that have been
sodomised by the drug-crazed youngsters.

There have also been chilling reports of dogs having glue packets
forced over their snouts, and of small children throwing puppies to
pitbulls which catch them like balls.

Tik is a massive problem in Ocean View. Earlier this year more than
200 Rastafarians and community members marched on the homes of tik
dealers demanding they stop dealing, but ironically some of those
allegedly involved in pitbull fighting are Rastas themselves.

Tears staff member Ingrid de Storie, who lives in Ocean View, said
even small children were getting involved in dog-fighting, copying

"They use the puppies and try to get them to fight. They bet around

Tears, whose core job is to rescue and re-home abandoned animals, now
spends a vast amount of its time and resources trying to save the
lives of pets that have been torn to shreds by pitbulls.

Most have their throats ripped out or, if they are trying to flee, are

Marilyn Hoole, co-founder of the organisation, said pitbull fighting
was out of control in the area.

"It's not the organised fights so much but this new form of
'entertainment' where youngsters wander around with their dogs letting
them attack any dog they come across."

It was a matter of time before a toddler was killed.

De Storie said she tried to forget some of the horror scenes she had
witnessed. "One boy took boiling water and threw it over his dog. When
I asked him why he replied 'net sommer' (just because). His mother
then asked what business it was of mine."

She said if they went to the police they were just laughed at. "But
these guys use their dogs to break into houses or to rob people."

Shortreed said Ocean View was a breeding factory for pitbulls and
puppies were sold for about R1 500.

Patching up the victims takes up an enormous amount of her time and
many are beyond help.

"Sometimes it is just damage control."

There have been calls over the years to ban pitbulls, especially after
attacks on people and because many dogs are owned by criminals who use
them as a form of intimidation.

A proposed new bylaw being discussed by the City of Cape Town and
NGOs, seeks to outlaw the use of dogs to intimidate or threaten
people. But Tears staff are under no illusion that it will ever be
enforced, especially not in an area like Ocean View.

Hoole said what concerned them most was the link between animal and
human violence, which was well documented.
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