Father of mauled infant: "I tried to save Simba"

Monday, March 28, 2016 - 00:00

Shayas Khan, the father of baby Maleek, who was mauled to death by the family’s pet, Simba, says he supports the decision by the T&T Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TTSPCA) to have the dog euthanised.

Khan admitted that he took the dog into his care after Simba’s previous owner threatened to have him euthanised because of his aggression.

“Simba had at one time tore up the shirt of his previous owner and I felt sorry for him when I was told that he would be put down. I asked for the dog, in a bid to save his life and see how best I could have taken care of him,” he said.

He said while in the beginning Simba showed signs of aggression towards him, he eventually calmed down and the Rottweiler/German Shepherd mixed breed dog proved to be a good watchdog, keeping thieves away.

Ironically, on the day of baby Maleek’s funeral, thieves broke into Khan’s home and ransacked the place, including baby Maleek’s clothes and toys.

“Simba wasn’t around and we did not have any other dog in the yard and in our distress, while burying our son, thieves broke in putting us in even more distress. These people have no heart,” Khan said.

On Thursday, the TTSPCA announced that Simba had been euthanised after his aggression escalated without any indication or provocation. It was felt that he posed a threat to the safety of his handlers.

“Simba was aggressive to me and then he was okay and then suddenly he became aggressive again and took the life of my baby so he just had to be put to death. I don’t believe that he could have ever changed and to make it worse, he tasted blood and might have attacked again. I tried my best with Simba and I am sure the TTSPCA tried their best too.  It was the best thing. You cannot train an old dog new tricks,” he said

On March 8, six-month-old baby Maleek, who was left in his stroller, was attacked by Simba and bitten in the head. He eventually died. The following day, a petition to save Simba was started by Daniella Daniel, who said the dog could be rehabilitated and properly trained. To date, more than 20,000 signatures have been collected.

Yesterday, Daniel told the T&T Guardian she felt hurt, lied to and a bit sceptical on hearing the news that Simba had been euthanised. She said she strongly felt that 11 days was not enough for Simba to show signs of rehabilitation. “I don’t want to hear any dog was put down, no matter the circumstances,” she said.

The TTSPCA’s full statement

The dog Simba, reported to have been responsible for the recent death of a child was brought into the TTSPCA Shelter by the Chaguanas Corporation on March 10. The Corporation requested informally that we house the dog for a period of time until funeral arrangements were completed.

Simba was housed in the secure Class A section, examined by the shelter veterinarian and by a qualified behaviourist and a trainer. At the time, Simba was found to be "head-shy, showing fear, aggression, wary of human contact, cowering and tensing his body when touched. His behaviour is that of a very poorly socialized dog.

On March 21, Simba started to display signs of aggression towards our veterinarian, and to members of staff who had previously worked with and interacted with him. 

On March, 22 his aggression escalated without any indication or provocation, and it was felt that he now posed a threat to the safety of his handlers. We requested help from the trainer to assist us with his unstable behaviour and to see how best we could manage the change in his temperament. Following this assessment however, a collective decision was taken to euthanise Simba.

While we know that many will feel disappointed by our action, we would like everyone to know it has also been a difficult decision for our team who worked with him daily.

The TTSPCA believes that this case is not just about one dog, it is also about a lack of public education, poor ownership practices and outdated and inadequate laws to protect animals. We urge the Attorney General to consider amending the Dog Control Act to include Duty of Care protection for all dogs and to initiate the drafting of Animal Welfare laws in general.

SOURCE: http://www.guardian.co.tt (Rhondor Dowlat)

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