Sunday, March 12, 2000

South Africa: Woman has both her arms and her right ear ripped off after being attacked by police officer's Pit Bulls

SOUTH AFRICA -- By Megan Powers

The sign on the gate says it all. Next to a drawing of a ferocious, salivating dog is the ominous warning: "I can make it to the gate in five seconds - can you?"

On Friday morning, Durban mother Janet Mngadi couldn't.

On Friday, two American pit bull terriers attacked Janet Mngadi, 40, after she entered her new employer's home in Amanzimtoti. 

While dragging her around the garden, the Pit Bulls nearly killed her. Both of her arms had to be amputated, she lost her right ear and sustained serious injuries to her left eye and cheek.

By the time paramedics arrived and tried to put up a drip, they discovered to their horror that no veins remained on either of the woman's arms. Mngadi's arms were amputated hours later.

"It was terribly gory," said paramedic Chris Botha. "She was in severe shock and had lost a lot of blood. But there was very little we could do on the scene because there was no place left to put in a drip."

Mngadi , is now fighting for her life in the intensive care unit at King Edward VIII Hospital. By late yesterday, she had not yet spoken and was still on a ventilator.

The distressed owner of the dogs, Amanzimtoti policeman Deon de Welzim, had to be sedated on Friday. His dogs, Zeus and Hera, were put down at the local vet the same day.

Mr De Welzim and his girlfriend, Michelle Charlton, live in a granny flat next to his sister Karen's house.

Charlton, the only witness to the attack, shoved her fingers into the mouth of one of the dogs and managed to contain it before it broke loose again and was joined by the other dog.

She was treated for injuries at Kingsway Hospital and was also too upset to speak yesterday.

But Jonathan Thompson, a former employer of Ms Mngadi who got her the part-time job with the De Welzims a few weeks ago and who was at the house yesterday, agreed to speak on his friends' behalf.

"It's tragic what happened to Janet. But we don't know why she came on to the property on her own after we had warned her not to. In the environment we live in today, the dogs were just doing their jobs. It just got out of hand," said Thompson.

The 29-year-old, who used to live with Karen de Welzim, used to own one of the pit bulls but left him with Deon when he moved out. It was he who put the pair down.

"It wasn't easy. These dogs were like kids to Deon and we all loved them. But we agreed we could no longer have them around," said Thompson. "They were both well trained. This would never have happened if Deon had been at home.

"They're beautiful dogs and are regarded as the third most intelligent breed. But they're controversial and this attack will get extra attention because it involves pit bulls," he said.

Chris Jordan, De Welzim's current boyfriend, said: "One minute, we're so angry with the dogs. Then we feel angry that Janet didn't wait at the gate. All that really matters now is that Janet pulls through. Imagine having her death on our conscience."

Hey moron. If you didn't want anyone walking in the gate, PUT A LOCK ON IT!

A police spokesman said the matter was still under investigation.

Mngadi is married and has five children: Jabulani, 16; Zithulele, 21, and twins Nokubonga and Mabongi, 13, and Nobuhle, 10.

(IOL - March 11, 2000)

Thursday, March 9, 2000

Florida: Marta Pejouhy, 62, ordered to surrender her nearly 40 dogs

FLORIDA -- Even though Marta Pejouhy claims to love her 37 dogs, she cannot care for them properly, a Palm Beach County judge ruled in granting the city's request to gain custody of the animals.

The dogs were living alongside rats in a house rank with feces, urine and garbage, according to court documents. The pets were seized Jan. 22 during the execution of a search warrant at Pejouhy's home on Southeast 28th Avenue.

County Judge Susan Lubitz agreed with city officials that the conditions in the house were deplorable and found that Pejouhy, 62, is "unfit or unable to adequately provide for the animals."

Palm Beach County Animal Control officials said all the dogs are healthy enough to be put up for adoption. But first they must be sterilized, and officials are not prepared to start processing the dogs for adoption yet.

Pejouhy's attorney said Tuesday that he is trying to stop that process and get 10 of the dogs back for his client. Bert Shapero, who is representing Pejouhy, filed a motion on Wednesday asking Lubitz to reconsider her decision and impose a stay on any adoption proceedings.

Shapero said the conditions in Pejouhy's home might have been deemed unlivable for animal control officers, but the conditions were fine for animals, her primary interest.

"What we may not consider suitable for humans may be sufficient as far as dogs are concerned," Shapero said. "I haven't talked to a dog for a long time, so I don't know whether the dogs thought they were livable or not."

In her order, Lubitz noted that Pejouhy had taken measures to clean up her home, but said the only reason Pejouhy took those measures was because her dogs were seized.

The dogs seized were 12 retrievers, seven terriers, five hounds, four pit bulls, three German shepherds, and dogs of six other breeds.

Several were treated for minor medical conditions, said Liz Roehrich, animal control officer for Boynton Beach.

Many of the dogs were confined to crates that were too small or had been leashed to a chair. Others were chained to trees in the front yard, according to court documents. The yard was covered with feces, dirty food bowls, open bags of dog food and dead rats.

A veterinarian who assessed the dogs after they were seized said they appeared to be well-fed, but they had minor medical conditions such as eye and ear infections, hair loss, fly-bitten ears and open sores.

Pejouhy told animal control officers that she understood the situation was out of control, but that "at least [the dogs] are not at the pound being killed," according to court documents.

Animal control officers think Pejouhy finds stray dogs and keeps them in her home without notifying authorities, as required by state law.

"The bottom line is there were good intentions on her part, but they were very misguided," Roehrich said. "She would not relinquish these dogs. To keep them in those conditions was better than the alternative to her."

Lubitz denied the city's motion to require Pejouhy to pay for the costs associated with caring for her dogs since Jan. 22, which so far total more than $10,000.

Pejouhy owes fines in excess of $10,000 as a result of a lien on her property, city officials said. She has been fined $25 a day since Jan. 18, 1999, for failing to maintain her property.

(Sun Sentinel - March 9, 2000)