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‘She could have been killed’

BLESSING Swartbooi (4) can be heard crying in the background, while her mother, Elsie Swartbooi, telephonically tells The Namibian from her daughter’s hospital bed: “I’m very heart-broken because my daughter was hurt bad – she could’ve been killed.”

Last Friday, Swartbooi was walking home to Mondesa after visiting her mother at the DRC informal settlement with Blessing and her eight-year-old son when they were attacked by dogs.

“The black one just grabbed my daughter on the legs. The other brown one scratched my son, but left. But the black one just carried on biting,” she explained, adding that she had to lift Blessing to her chest to keep the dog from biting the child’s head and face.

Other people came out, and one man apparently hit the black dog with a plank, while the son hit it with a rock. It fled, but Blessing’s leg was seriously injured. She was immediately taken to the Swakopmund State Hospital.

The little girl has been on treatment over the entire weekend, and was only discharged from Hospital yesterday morning.

“She will be okay, but we are expecting lots of scars. She will also be in much pain until this heals,” noted Swartbooi.

According to information issued by the police and the Swakopmund municipality on Monday, the dog was a black Staffordshire bull terrier called Pedro.

According to eyewitnesses, the dog was removed from its owner’s yard without consent by a known individual, who then released the dog from its leash as it appeared to be choking. This resulted in the dog running off and attacking Blessing.

Swakopmund municipality spokesperson Linda Mapupa said the dog has been seized by the police and is now in the custody of the municipality’s animal control department. It will be put down as it is unvaccinated and might carry rabies.

Swartbooi said the owner of the dog visited them in the hospital and pledged to support the family.

The owner of the dog was contacted, but he said he did not want to comment.

Tierschutzverein Swakopmund (SPCA) manager Ingrid Gürtel yesterday expressed sympathy to the victim and her family following the recent dog attack and placed responsibility on the person in charge of keeping the dog on a leash. According to preliminary reports, the dog was let off its leash to run home and the little girl was in the way.

Gürtel emphasised the importance of following regulations and keeping dogs on leashes in public, citing this latest incident as a testament to why this was necessary.

The police are investigating the matter to establish the full details of what happened.

The dog involved in the attack had been reported previously for attacking someone who entered its owner’s yard, but Gürtel explained that this behaviour was a result of the dog protecting its owner and property. She added that while she would expect her dogs to protect her in similar situations, this incident was different as it took place in a public area.

“Let this serve as a reminder to always keep dogs on leashes when out in public for the safety of all individuals involved,” she said.

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