One of the most uncomfortable moments in my life of road running is when I have to cross paths with someone walking their dog(s). I love dogs and I believe that they are loyal pets you may want to have in your home. What is it then that makes me feel uncomfortable when I meet dog walkers with their dogs?
1. The nature of dogs
My experience with untrained dogs is that they are very ill-disciplined and they get excited quickly. I always get the feeling that as I pass by a dog it will get excited and feel the need to chase me. For that reason I become very alert and continue to be suspicious until I am at a considerable distance from them. Only when I am far away from them would I find small rest within myself.
2. Type of a dog
I am not intimidated by every dog. I find beagles to be very friendly. What troubles me a bit are the Chihuahuas. Those tiny dogs, especially when they are more than one, they are troublesome. I must admit that these dogs are the least of my problems. What I fear the most in the canine world is that stone and cold hearted beast referred to as pitbull. In my mind I classify this dog as a wild animal. It terrifies me more when I see it in the township being walked by a young boy who is obviously being pulled by the dog through a leash. If for any reason this pitbull decide to chase me, it will drag the boy on the ground until he gives up and let go of the leash and leave the dog to pursue me.
The type of the pitbull also adds to my fears. I read an article the other day on pitbulls. I learned that a pink nose pitbull is somewhat sociable as opposed to the aggressive and grumpy blue nose pitbull. When I am running I never get time to check the color of the nose, when I see a pitbull I become highly alert. This dog really gets under my skin.
3. The location
The fact that I get to see a pitbull in the township being walked by a young boy, tells me that this animal is not well trained. It could attack me and also attack this young boy. I am not saying all township people, who are usually black like myself, are incapable of training their dogs but evidence with the way they treat other breeds suggests that most of township people indeed are incapable of training their dogs.
Sometimes I get to wonder why exactly some people get to own dogs if they won’t look after them. I get concerned with pitbulls. There seems to be a rise in the number of pitbulls in my township alone. When I am doing my runs I would meet a group of young man walking with five or six pitbulls. Imagine me trying to get as far away possible from the dogs while trying to hide from the young men the fact that I am terrified.
Sometimes it is not the pitbulls on the road that bother me. I get intimidated by a pitbull which is within its owners yard. What sets off the alarm bells is the fence which keeps the animal way from me. There is one house I know where the fence shows clearly that it had suffered greatly from this insane animal. The owner has mended the fence in a very shabby fashion and such a fact does not reassure a passerby of any safety from the beast.
If anyone owns a dog in the township or anywhere else, it is wise to use a strong and high wall and to make sure that there is no way the dog would dig, squeeze or jump its way out. This should be done for the safety of the public and also for that of the beast. There are unstable people out there, who when attacked by this animal would simply pull out a gun and take it down without blinking.
My Greatest Wish
With fast rising numbers of pitbulls in my township belonging to irresponsible owners, I wish that the government would monitor the situation and remove the beasts from owners whose homes are not well fenced. Over and above that, owners should get paid licences in order for them to keep this breed. So to make it difficult for every Tom, Dick and Harry to own this dog, the permit should start from R10 000 per animal and restrict it to two animals at a time. Who ever would violate to this regulation, they should be jailed for at least 10 years depending on the number of pitbulls they illegally kept.
Should the pitbull bite or even kill a human being, it should be killed and the owner should be held liable for the medical expenses and the funeral expenses for the victim.
I know that I am just dreaming. Such a regulation can never come to pass in the present South Africa. Countless people, including children, would have to be killed by these beasts before anything be actually done by the government.