North Carolina breeder killed by one of her own “Beloved Boerboels”
ASHEVILLE, North Carolina; DURBAN, South Africa––Buncombe County Animal Services on May 1, 2017 removed five boerboel dogs and a Great Pyranees from the home of Jane Marie Egle, 59, after shooting a sixth boerboel who had fatally mauled Egle.
Relocating to the Asheville area in 2012, Egle raised “horses, chickens, dairy goats, bees and organic produce” at her Bent Creek Farm, according to her LinkedIn page. In 2014 Egle began breeding and training boerboels as a sideline under the business name “Beloved Boerboels.”
“Beyond threatening & aggressive”
The five boerboels taken from the Egle home alive “were beyond threatening and aggressive, as ferocious of an animal as I have ever met in a 20-year career specializing in aggression,” Dog Door Behavior Center proprietor Kim Brophey told Asheville Citizen-Times reporter Abigail Margulis.
“If one is going to attempt to have such a dog as a pet, which I would argue is debatable, then you have to go far and beyond any measure of socialization and training that you would do for most other breeds,” Brophey added. “The amount of work that would have had to go into socialization and training for these dogs in the hopes that it would have been enough to buffer against their genetic impulses wasn’t there. It hadn’t been done.
Asheville Humane Society
“The only other dog I’ve ever met that scared me this much also happened to be a boerboel,” Brophey mentioned.
Brophey evaluated the boerboels, along with two other trainers, at the Asheville Humane Society. The Asheville Humane Society in May 2015 rehomed a pit bull who three weeks later killed six-year-old Joshua Phillip Strother, a neighbor of the pit bull adopter. This time, though, the Asheville Humane Society reportedly euthanized the boerboels, as Brophey recommended.
What exactly is a boerboel?
Second most-feared dogs in South Africa
Boerboels, until very recently, were the most feared dogs in South Africa. But since 2004 South African pit bulls have outkilled boerboels by a ratio of 43 to one, and have outkilled all other dogs combined by a ratio of 43 to 12.
Police in Phoenix, South Africa, a northwestern suburb of Durban, on May 9, 2017 impounded six pit bulls from a site described by media as “a notorious drug den” after finding two unidentified male victims of apparent fatal maulings in a stream just a stone’s throw from where a female victim, Shantel Pillay, 29, was found dead in February 2016.
Until the recent explosion of pit bull mayhem, however, Lance van Sittert and Sandra Swart explained in “Canis Familiaris: A Dog History of South Africa” (2003), published by the South African Historical Journal, boerboels were not only considered the scariest dogs in the region, but were living symbols of the era of racial segregation, called apartheid, enforced by the South African government from 1948 to 1991.
“Canine defense of white privilege & property”
Wrote van Sittert and Swarth, “The canine defense of white privilege and property was miniaturized to the private farm and home where breeds renown for their fierceness were kept or created – such as the boerboel and colossus – as deterrent to the real and imagined threat of black revolt and redistribution. Dogs, as much as people, patrolled and maintained the white cities and countryside of post-colonial South Africa and time and again were catalysts and actors along its social frontiers.”
The Dutch Afrikaan word “boer” means “farmer,” but boerboels [boer + bull, as in pit bull] were always guard dogs much more than farm dogs used for herding or other actual farm work, such as pulling carts or running on treadmills to power butter churns.
The proto-boerboel was a “bullenbitjer,” or “bull-biter,” a bullmastiff-type baiting and fighting dog imported by Jan van Riebeeck, one of the first Dutch settlers to land at Cape Horn, the future site of the city of Cape Town, in 1652.
Current breed histories identify boerboels as a dog developed to hunt lions, keep caracals and jackals away from sheep, and roust baboons from field crops. Reality is that boerboels, much larger and more aggressive than the native mutts kept by the indigenous black majority, were used chiefly to help Afrikaaners maintain political and cultural dominance.
Older breed histories acknowledge that boerboels share ancestry and history with Rhodesian ridgebacks, likewise used to maintain apartheid in the nation which in 1980 became Zimbabwe. Boerboels received a genetic infusion as well from European bull mastiffs imported as guard dogs by the De Beers diamond mining empire.
The Jane Egle death at her Bent Creek Farm in North Carolina bore parallels to the April 2016 death of Mpho Mokoena, 32, of Maritzburg, mauled by her own boerboel and two Rottweilers while hanging laundry.
“She is the one who used to feed and play with them,” Mokoena’s sister Mmabatho Brown told Taschica Pillay of the Johannesburg Times.
Only two months earlier, in February 2016, two boerboels killed seven-year-old Twiggy Buchisa at her home in Ndola, Zambia, a nation under South African governance during the British colonial era.
Outside of Africa, boerboels are as yet little recognized as close kin to pit bulls and other “bully” breeds, with a comparable history, but there are exceptions.
Banned in Denmark
Denmark in 2010 added boerboels to the national list of banned breeds, begun with pit bulls and tosas in 1991, now also specifically including the “American bulldog” and “Staffordshire” pit bull lines, along with ovtcharkas, Dogo Argentinos, Fila Brasileiros, Kangals, and Sarplaninacs (a Central European mastiff variant.)
The Turks & Caicos islands, a small Caribbean nation, in March 2014 added boerboels to a “restricted” list, which may only be kept within “premises on which the dog is secured by a fence or wall of suitable height and that such fence or wall is constructed and maintained as to prevent the escape of the dog,” behind warning signs, by persons who must be more than 21 years of age.
In addition, the Turks & Caicos require that boerboels must be sterilized and microchipped.