The nationwide problem of stray dogs is shared by David Wardle, small stock farmer in the Cathcart district of the Eastern Cape.
In his capacity as small stock farmer and previous chairperson of the Thomas River Conservancy, Wardle has been dealing with the problem of stray dogs and illegal dog hunting for several years. He is confident that he represents the views and knowledge of most game and small stock farmers throughout the country.
Most people involved in greyhound breeding as well as law enforcement officers are aware of the problem of stray dogs and the sport of dog hunting. In many cases, they are involved and endorse the actions of the communities and the clients of greyhound breeders (dog buyers).
The following categories are deemed problematic and cause devastation to small stock and game farmers across the country:
- Stock theft, coupled with the use of damage-causing dogs
- Unattended stray dogs
- Small-scale hunting for the pot
- Illegal large-scale dog hunting and betting (“taxi hunting”)
INTENTIONAL STOCK THEFT COUPLED WITH DAMAGE-CAUSING DOGS
Stock theft, a common practice, is associated with stealing sheep, goats, or other small stock, with dogs assisting in the process. Often these dogs are used to scare the sheep to the edges of the camps where they can be caught and tied. Sometimes the dogs are used to catch and drag down the sheep to capture and tie them up for transport. Usually, large syndicates or gangs are involved in the theft and business is done with the spoils. In the Cathcart region especially, theft is executed on a grand scale and up to 50 small stock are stolen at a time and then loaded and sold elsewhere or slaughtered locally.
UNATTENDED STRAY DOGS
In towns and townships across the country there are many dogs that are homeless and totally neglected by their owners. These dogs roam the streets and suburbs trying to survive on whatever they can scrounge from bins, gutters, and dumps. Then they begin to form relationships and a pecking order and eventually hunting packs develop, and they learn to survive like wild dogs.
This is when they are most destructive. These dogs wander out into the farmlands and wreak havoc on game and small-stock farms. Scores of sheep, goats, and wildlife are often mauled, mangled, or killed during these raids by wild domestic dogs.
Often the dogs that were previously used in stock theft become part of these packs. They sometimes remember where they were used for stock theft, and head out to the same regions and begin to tackle and maul small stock. These raids into the farms often result in scores or even hundreds of sheep being killed or mauled.