Pitbull given second chance

By MICHAEL BRUXO [email protected]

A huge wave of controversy over the future of a dog believed to have killed an 18-month baby in a savage attack is gathering pace, after it was revealed that the animal’s life has been spared.

The pitbull-cross Zico, now renamed Mandela, was due to be put down but a court in Beja ruled against the decision and decided it could be left in the care of an animal rights association (ANIMAL) with a view to rehabilitation.

Rita Silva, president of ANIMAL, told the Algarve Resident that the dog will be accompanied by a specialist who will assess the animal’s condition and work with the pitbull, regularly keeping the court up-to-date about its progress through reports and videos.

However, despite many questions raised by followers of the association, Silva confirmed the dog will not be put up for adoption at the end of the rehabilitation efforts.

“Even if all goes perfectly, Mandela will not be available for adoption. Either he will live out his days in the comfort of our shelter or will be taken in by a specialised organisation,” she said.

ANIMAL has been targeted by contesters who do not believe the dog deserves a second chance. The debate has further been aggravated by a decision by the association to re-name the pitbull Mandela, after Nelson Mandela, the former South-African president and leader of the anti-Apartheid movement.

The association claims that the choice was not intended to dishonour Nelson Mandela and that it is a normal procedure to give human names to the animals they take in.

“We firmly stand by our decision to re-name the dog. It is normal procedure to give a new name to the animals we take in, symbolising their new life and, in this case, paying homage to a great defender of freedom. People are using this fact as an excuse to criticise us. Would they have preferred us to name the animal Saddam?” she questioned.

ANIMAL has also claimed that the autopsy does not prove beyond doubt that the injuries suffered by the baby were the direct cause of death and defended that the dog was maltreated and kept indoors at all times, although the details have not been publically revealed.

Despite admitting that the case is important because it may mark a turning point for animal rights, Silva stressed that all animals are equal in the eyes of the non-governmental association and there has been no special treatment for Mandela.

In order for the association to take the animal into its custody, ANIMAL raised €1,400 from donations by followers and supporters of the association. Due to the media exposure that the case has received, the money was easily gathered. However, the court decided there was no reason to demand payment for taking the dog and now the money is to be returned to all donors.