An 11-year-old girl is in an East London hospital after she was mauled by a neighbour’s pitbull.
Rekeisha-Lee Barnes was playing with friends on Thursday afternoon in her Breidbach home 8km outside Qonce (King William’s Town), when the dog entered the fenced yard.
It was not clear how the dog managed to get entry to the yard.
Rekeisha-Lee’s father, Betram Jagers, said the child’s grandmother, who tried to pull the dog off her, was also bitten.
Jagers said he took a call at work in East London telling him about the attack.
“If it wasn’t for the help of people passing by my daughter would have died,” the shaken father said.
“My daughter was rushed to hospital in King William’s Town, where they gave her stitches. At 2am on Friday she was transferred to East London where they opened those stitches to reassess her condition,” he said.
“She lost a tooth in the process. Initially, she was going to go for surgery as doctors were worried she wouldn’t be able to eat or swallow.
“But she was able to do so so that operation is not needed.”
Jagers was speaking to DispatchLIVE on Monday after visiting his daughter.
He said his child was traumatised and in pain, and there was lots of swelling.
“Her mother and I are extremely worried. She hasn’t been able to sleep because she is scared something will happen to our little girl overnight,” he said.
“We are so stressed. It is painful to see such a small and innocent child suffering,” Jagers said.
He said the neighbours had apologised and said the dog belonged to their son, who lived in Bloemfontein.
But he said: “They must be held liable for what happened to my daughter. She won’t just need physical treatment but psychological healing too.”
According to an East London law firm specialising in personal injury claims, if a dog bites a person the owner of the dog is liable.
According to their website: “The law relating to dog bite claims in SA is very clear. The dog’s owner is legally responsible for the damage or loss caused by the dog.
“There’s no requirement that the claimant prove fault, negligence or intention.”
According to the firm, mitigating factors can include a victim provoking the dog by teasing or taunting, the victim ignoring warnings of how dangerous the dog is, and the victim being illegally on the dog owner’s premises when the attack occurs.
SPCA trainer and inspector Nikky Bean said the little girl appeared to have been playing innocently in her yard when the dog attacked.
Bean said the SPCA had been involved and the dog was euthanased on Monday afternoon.
“In cases like this the dog could attack again, unprovoked,” Bean said.
She said there had been a female dog in heat in the yard where the incident happened, and that could have led the pitbull there.
Bean said dogs that were chained up had nowhere to unleash their frustration, and this made them dangerous when they broke loose.
She said in the case of a dog attack, especially concerning minors, there were techniques that could prevent major damage to the body.
“If a dog attacks it can go for the throat, especially with children. In such cases, the best thing to do is put your arms up and push them into the mouth of the dog.
“Don’t try to pull away as that could rip the skin,” Bean said.
“Pushing an arm into the mouth will create a gag reflex, allowing the dog teeth to loosen up, which will result in the least amount of damage to the person,” she said.