What started out as a calm day in the garden for elderly couple Ermelinda Barnard, 79, and Adam Barnard, 85, soon turned into a bloodbath after two dogs entered their Sunningdale property, broke through a fence and started attacking their 18-month-old Rottweiler.
The couple, who are hard of hearing, only realised what was happening when their puppy screeched.
Linda Joubert, the couple’s daughter, who was helping them with their gardening, tried to get one of the dogs, a German Shepherd, off the property, while her father wrestled with the pit bull, which had the puppy’s paw clenched in its jaws.
“I ran into the street to try to get some help, and we opened the hose to try to separate the dogs, but we couldn’t. The dog had lock jaw on Zara’s paw.”
Ms Joubert went to the bedroom and hit the armed response panic button.
“I didn’t know what else to do. My dad already has poor health. When the American Staffordshire bit Zara’s collar and ripped it off, I ran and got Zara and ran inside the house.
“I screamed for mom to close the door, and when I closed the door, she slipped and fell back on her head into a pool of blood and couldn’t get up. There was blood everywhere – on the stove, walls and floor. The law enforcement officer said that it looks like a murder scene,” said Ms Joubert.
Ms Barnard struggles to sleep at night after the incident.
“My whole body was sore after the fall,” she said.
“I was lying in a pool of blood. Since this, my husband has not been well. He is in and out of hospital. We’ve seen these dogs out before.”
The Rottweiler pup was rushed to the vet after the attack and has been in and out of hospital while the vet decides whether or not a skin graft will be possible, or whether the pup will lose its paw.
“Our vet bills are up to R17 000. I found out who the owner is, because one of his dogs was at Table View Animal Hospital and Grooming Parlour. He stays in Sunningdale, but, up until today, he hasn’t called or come to apologise,” said Ms Joubert.
“Law enforcement called him on Friday and asked him if he has a pit bull, and he said no. They asked if his dog is at the Table View Animal Hospital and he said yes. We later found out it is a American Staffordshire.”
According to Wikipedia, the American Staffordshire is one of several breeds commonly referred to as pit bulls.
“My elderly parents have also been affected medically,” said Ms Joubert.
“I feel the owner needs to come forward. We put up the fence because my dad is quite sickly, so the fence was to keep the Zara aside in case medical staff needed to get onto the property. We took precautions to be responsible, he should’ve done so too.”
JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, said the case was being investigated, and the City might impound the two dogs if an animal behaviourist deemed them a risk to life or property.
“The outcomes will only be decided once the investigation is concluded,” said Mr Smith.
“If the complainant wants to claim for any damages, they would then have to lay a civil case and follow those procedures.”
While the couple and their daughter were traumatised by the encounter, they say it showed them how quickly people in the community are prepared to help others.
Star Alarms came out immediately and called out community medics who nursed Ms Barnard, whose sugar levels and pulse were quite high. The medics bandaged the injured dog and a Table View Neighbourhood Watch member drove the bloodied pup to the vet.
“I never met any of these people before and they went out of their way to help us,” said Ms Joubert, adding that some had even offered to pay their vet bills.
“I decided I am going to do my bit in the community and join an organisation to help out too. We as children, myself and my brother Arnold and sister Louise are committed to assist my parents and give them the love and support they so rightly deserve.”