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Children savaged by dog

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“She was covered in blood and I could see her exposed skull as I was holding her. A large strip of her scalp, together with her hair, had been ripped off and her face was swollen”

TWO YOUNG children, aged three and seven, from Ipopeng have been hospitalised and undergone reconstructive surgery following a vicious attack by a pit bull terrier.

A large piece of the three-year-old toddler’s scalp was ripped off during the attack on Tuesday afternoon, while the seven-year-old suffered severe injuries to his face, arms and legs as well as a broken jaw.

The toddler’s mother, Tiisetso Gaobosi, said that her daughter, Thateho, and her friend were playing inside the yard of her house in Lesego Street when she suddenly heard the children screaming.

“I was inside the house when I heard the children screaming. I ran outside and saw the dog attacking my daughter. I grabbed a chair that was standing outside and a steel pipe and I used them to fight the dog off. The little boy who was playing with my daughter ran out of the yard. I managed to get the dog away from my daughter and picked her up. She was covered in blood and I ran inside the house,” said Gaobosi.

She said she was shocked when she saw the injuries her child had sustained.

“She was covered in blood and I could see her exposed skull as I was holding her. A large strip of her scalp, together with her hair, had been ripped off and her face was swollen.

“She was rushed for X-rays the moment we arrived at the Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital and she was taken into theatre at about midnight.”

According to the mother, the medical personnel had immediately opened a criminal case against the owner of the dog.

“The doctors were horrified when they saw the injuries and opened a criminal case with the police. I was in shock and wanted my child to get medical attention urgently,” said Gaobosi.

According to the seven-year-old’s father, Hector Maruping, his son, Phemelo, was playing with the toddler when the incident occurred.

“My son and the other child were playing inside the yard of the toddler’s house in Lesego Street. The dog initially attacked the toddler and my son tried to run away but the dog went after him. The dog caught up with my son as he ran into the yard of another house in Boitumelo Street.

“Both his legs, both arms and his entire face were mauled by the dog. His jaw was also broken during the incident.

“He had to undergo reconstructive surgery. They operated on him at around 8pm on Tuesday night and he only came out of theatre after 1am yesterday morning.”

Maruping said that members of the community came to the aid of his son during the attack.

“People, who saw what was happening, started throwing stones at the dog in an attempt to get it to loosen its grip on my son, but it wouldn’t let go. After a while the dog eventually let go and wanted to attack the people.”

He said that his brother rushed his son to hospital. “I was in Barkly West at the time of the incident and my brother called to tell me that my son had been attacked by a dog. I went straight to Gariep Mediclinic Hospital where he had been admitted. I was shocked when I saw his injuries.”

Maruping said he went back to the scene of the incident to try and find the dog as he was afraid that it might have a disease like rabies.

“When I arrived at the scene, there was a crowd of people who were stoning the dog. I picked up the dog and rushed with it to the hospital, where I was told that the animal had to be taken to the SPCA.”

He added that the dog died. “When the SPCA arrived, they seemed more upset that the dog had been killed than the severe injuries sustained by the children.”

Maruping said the doctors told him that his son would require further medical treatment in the future.

“Some of the wounds are very deep and the scars will remain. The doctor indicated that my son will need further plastic surgery when he is older. He, however, has to live with the scarring on his body for now. It is heartbreaking that my child will have to go through this challenge at such a young age. Some children are very cruel and will tease him about the way he looks. This will be a heavy burden he will have to carry for years.”

Maruping added that action should be taken against the owners of the dog.

“The owners of the dog are not equipped to keep that breed. The wall of their yard is very low. It is not clear whether the dog jumped over the wall or whether it ran out of the gate. The owners have two pit bulls and this was apparently not the first incident reported.

“The owners have to pay for my medical bills as this is their fault. There have been three specialists who have seen my son and the medical bills are going to be hefty. More stringent action must be taken against the owners.”

He said there needed to be regulations regarding the keeping of certain breeds of dogs and criminal charges should be opened against owners who did not train their dogs properly.

“Dog attacks are becoming a regular occurrence in the city, especially those involving pit bulls. Owners found to be negligent need to be charged criminally when their dogs attack people. Those dogs are vicious and an attack from them can be fatal.”

Both sets of parents indicated that the owner of the dog had not contacted them after the incident and had only requested a meeting the next day.

The parents indicated that the owner had not shown any remorse and had been angry that his dog had been killed.

“The owner claimed that the dog never entered my yard and that they did not send their dog to bite anyone. He is not accepting any accountability for the incident. I am not at a stage where I would accept an apology from him. If the community did not come to the assistance of the children, the end result could have been far worse,” said Gaobosi.

According to Gaobosi the owner was arrested by the police during the requested meeting.

However, Galeshewe police spokesperson Captain Bashaobile Kale said that no one had been arrested in connection with the incident.

“The Kagisho police are investigating a case of contravention of the Animals Act Section 1. According to information, the children were playing in the street and were bitten by the dog. Nobody has been arrested in connection with the matter and the investigation continues,” said Kale.