Hammanskraal Neapolitan Mastiff dog breeder denies animal cruelty claim
A woman in the north of Pretoria accused of animal cruelty said she had been the victim of a vindictive lie.
“I have never allowed for tail docking or ear cropping, even at a client’s request. ”
The Hammanskraal resident, who breeds Neapolitan Mastiffs, was accused by a man of docking her dogs’ tails and cropping their ears.
The man called Rekord earlier, providing an anonymous tip-off and photos which he claimed linked her to the deed.
But the dog breeder said this week: “Never have I, nor will I ever, mutilate my dogs like that.” For 26 years she has been breeding the powerful and ancient Mastiff breed. “In 1992, there were only three of these dogs in the entire country.”
She imported the dogs, mostly from Europe, seeing to it that the very rare (almost extinct, in some parts of the world) lineage lives on.
“Never, in my almost 30 years of breeding these dogs, have I even docked a tail – even though the ban on docking came in years later,” she said.
“I have never allowed for tail docking or ear cropping, even at a client’s request. Why would I put my entire life’s work on the line by doing it now?”
The dog breeder said the accusation against her had hurt.
“This was a personal vendetta that has gotten out of hand. I am in the process of taking legal action against this man who falsely accused me.”
Rekord visited the breeder’s premises last Saturday, where she kept the massive mastiffs. “I keep record of all my dogs and their owners,” she said.
A large cabinet holds thick files on each of her Neapolitan Mastiffs. “I do have imported dogs with cropped ears – as other countries’ laws differ from ours. I also have all their papers and proof of where they came from.”
She said the claim of animal abuse should have been disproved months ago.
“Had the Tshwane SPCA visited me, they would have seen my records and know that I had nothing to do with the tail docking and ear cropping I was accused of.”
The breeder said the SPCA never investigated. Evidence presented by the breeder suggested that the accuser might have been involved in the offence himself.
He was confronted with evidence that he had organised with the breeder’s clients through Whatsapp messages to get their dogs’ ears cropped and tails docked. But the man denied any involvement.
“My phone was at her (the dog breeder’s) home. I was in hospital at the time,” he said.
The dog breeder said she believed the man orchestrated the procedure involving two puppies she sold to clients in January.
“That is why I keep record of everything,” she said. “Never have I allowed for any of my dogs to be surgically modified – they are perfect the way they are.”
She said her passion for Neapolitan Mastiffs ran deep. “When people hear the word breeder, they think of a puppy mill,” she explains.
“I am very opposed to these unregistered breeders and people who would breed without a thought for the animal’s wellbeing.”
The breeder keeps her dogs in prime condition. Multiple awards won at dog shows proves as evidence. The type of dog she breeds was popular throughout Europe centuries ago, but was almost lost after World War II.
Soon after the war, the Italian painter Piero Scanziani established a breeding kennel to turn the Mastiff-type dogs of Italy into a formal breed, which was then named the Neapolitan Mastiff. The English Mastiff was used to help in this process.
“The breed had almost gone extinct,” the breeder said. Health problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia, among other concerns, were contributing factors.
“My kennels and home are very well equipped to accommodate them and I am a regular visitor to the vet to make sure they are as healthy as can be,” she said.
“The cost of medical bills and extra employees far outweighs the selling cost. This is not a life for someone who wants to make money - this is the life for someone who is truly passionate about this breed.”
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