Final farewell to mauled Hillview boy

Uriel Ockhuis was attacked by two rottweilers.

The family of a six-year old boy who was bitten to death by two rottweilers are preparing to bury him this Saturday, December 15.

Uriel Ockhuis was with his sibling and friends when he was attacked and mauled to death by the dogs at about 7pm on Monday December 3.

The attack happened in Rose street in Hillview, around the corner from his house in Gladiola street.

His sister Gabriella Ockhuis, 9, said her brother was standing in front of the house where the dogs lived when he was attacked.

This wasn’t unusual as the children often played in the road and at the house opposite the dogs’ owners.

Gabriella said her brother was chewing bubblegum when one of the dogs approached him and jumped on him.

“My brother thought the dog was playing with him and he told the dog to leave him alone but then the dog started biting him. Then the bigger dog came out and also started biting him. I ran home and called my older brother Morne to help because I didn’t know what else to do,” she said.

When Morne Ockhuis, 28, ran around the corner to see what was happening, he was shocked to see his brother being ripped by the dogs.

“I picked up a piece of plank and wanted to hit the dogs. I fainted twice because it was too much to see. His flesh was torn from his scalp and there was a lot of blood.

“People threw a big stone at the dogs and that’s when it let go of Uriel and I picked him up and ran to our house. People had to throw more stones at the dogs because he wanted to come for me when I picked up my brother. We took him to the hospital and he was in a lot of pain but when we got there he had already died,” he said.

Mother Carol Ockhuis said she could not stand to see her son being ripped by the dogs.

“When I heard what was happening I ran around the corner but when I saw one of the dogs pulling at his feet and the other with my son’s head in his mouth, I couldn’t handle it. I didn’t want to see him like that,” said Ms Ockhuis.

She said she will always remember her Uriel as being a pleasant child.

“He was very loving and I will always remember him as being funny and playful child. It was his father’s birthday on the day and he was sharing biscuits with me and right before he left he gave me a kiss on the cheek and said ‘mummy I’m not coming again’ and gave me two more biscuits. I will remember the good things and the good times with my son,” she said.

Ms Ockhuis said she hopes her son’s death is a cautionary tale for owners of power breed dogs. “I don’t blame the owners because from what I heard, the sidegate where the dogs were kept was accidentally left open. People with such dogs should take responsibility and not raise their dogs to be violent and should not keep their dogs tied or locked up because it makes them violent,” she said.

The dogs, Storm and Brollock, were removed from the scene and euthanised by the SPCA.

Belinda Abraham, spokesperson for the SPCA, extended their condolences to the family.

“The two dogs were humanely put to sleep at their owner’s request. When it comes to dogs, the greatest predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour and we therefore believe that this was the most responsible course of action in this instance,” said Ms Abraham.

She said although the cause of the attack is unknown, she reminded dog owners that it takes a great deal of responsibility to raise man’s best friend.

“While we may live in times where some pet owners find safety in keeping power breeds, we caution these owners against encouraging aggression,” she said.

She also appealed to parents to ensure that children of school going age are taught proper techniques to avoid negative interaction with dogs.

Some of these include teaching children to avoid approaching unfamiliar dogs, never to scream at or run from a dog, never to play with a dog without adult supervision, not disturb a dog that is eating, sleeping or tending to puppies and not to run away if a dog approaches.

Southern Mail tried to contact the owners of the dogs and went to the residence in Rose Street but was not able to get comment.

Ms Ockhuis said the owner offered to contribute to the funeral arrangements but they refused.

* The SPCA recommends the following to those who want to keep power breeds:

Puppies bred from aggressive parents have a high tendency for viciousness due to the strong hereditability of aggressive behaviour so do not support back yard breeders or breeders who cannot give you insights into the levels of aggression displayed by the puppy’s parents.

Aggression starts in puppyhood with the failure to develop tolerance towards children, adults, elderly people etc. Puppy’s must obtain good imprinting during their impressionable period from three to 20 weeks of age.

Puppy socialisation classes with reputable dog trainers/animal behaviourists are a must and must be followed through with basic obedience training.

Pet owners need to spend enough quality time with their dogs to instil reliability – don’t isolate dogs to a fenced off area on the property.
This detaches the pet from the family “pack” and these dogs lose coping skills, trust and tolerance towards people. Children running past fenced-off dogs unintentionally “tease” them to the point of them being a tragedy waiting to escape.

The vast majority of dog owners punish their dogs inappropriately. Too often people hit their dogs for reasons the animals cannot understand and human aggression often results in canine aggression.

Don’t tease puppies to deliberately to get a growling response. This is not a game. Dogs do not play games. What is construed as play is nothing more than puppies exercising survival skills for adult life.

In confinement situations e.g. closed off courtyard, fenced off area in garden or a totally walled-in property, particularly where there is no visual, physical and tactile stimulation, dogs acquire a seriously low threshold for human behaviour.

They lose the experience gained from mixing with the family or going for walks.

The Animal Matters Amendment Act, 1993 (Act 42 of 1993) among others, provides that a court may make certain directions in respect of injuries caused by animals.

Any person as a result of whose negligence an animal causes injury to another person, shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment.

A court convicting a person may make an order regarding the removal, custody, disposal or destruction of the relevant animal and the recovery of any costs incurred. The City’s by-laws also apply.

* The power breeds are Rottweilers, Pit bulls, crossbreeds of pit bulls, German shepherds, Dobermans, Staffies, Huskies, Bull mastiffs and Great Danes.