UP veterinarians save brave dog after she got shot during an attempted armed robbery

Posted on September 26, 2023

Veterinary surgeons at the Onderstepoort Veterinary Academic Hospital (OVAH) recently saved the life of a brave dog that saved her family from robbers.

Phoenix, a female Africanis, attacked armed robbers when they attempted to enter the home of the Motalane family. The robbers violently shot at Phoenix, who was protecting her home and family. One of the bullets hit Phoenix in her head, but she continued charging at the intruders and managed to chase them away.

Her owner, Mmakgomo Motalane, immediately rushed Phoenix to the OVAH at the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Veterinary Science seeking veterinary attention. “Phoenix is our hero and deserves the best possible care to help her overcome this traumatic experience. She deserves a chance to survive this devastating incident,” Motalane said.

The veterinary team on duty at the OVAH small animal clinics, all attached to the Faculty’s Department of Companion Animal Clinical Studies (CACS), stabilised Phoenix and evaluated the extent of her injuries. Radiographs revealed that the bullet had caused damage to one side of her face; specifically, the upper and lower jaw.

At the dental and maxillofacial surgery clinic Dr Mareli van der Wetering, under the guidance of veterinary specialist in dentistry and maxillofacial surgery Professor Gerhard Steenkamp, managed Phoenix’s pain, cleaned the wounds, and removed bone fragments and broken teeth. The left side of Phoenix’s jaw showed multiple fractures and required removal of half the jaw (hemi-mandibulectomy).


Dr Anika de Witt (left) operating on Phoenix’s jaw

In theatre, together with the anaesthesiology team, Dr Anika de Witt, small animal surgical resident, under the guidance of small animal surgical specialist Dr Hermien Viljoen, removed half of the jaw and modified the lip (cheiloplasty).

Postoperatively, she was kept comfortable in the high-care ward where ongoing care is provided by OVAH staff and students.

Phoenix continued her bravery with her recovery and went home as soon as her comfort levels were controlled and she was able to orally take her food.

Phoenix and her family made a follow-up visit ten days later and the veterinary team at OVAH was thrilled with her recovery. They believe this brave girl will continue to live a full life.

Phoenix with Dr Viljoen, Mr Motalane, Dr de Witt and Prof Steenkamp during her follow-up visit.
*This article has been updated
- Author PvD/AdW

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