Dogs lose bid to save child

2012-10-13 00:00

TWO Labradors failed in a bid to save two-year-old Wanele Mkhize who had fallen into a swimming pool at a Prestbury, Pietermaritzburg, home yesterday.

The toddler purportedly loved playing with fourteen-month-old Labradors, Molly and Max, and when she fell into the pool, her distress alerted her canine play-mates who tried in vain to pull her from the murky water.

Wanele had been in the care of her great aunt Beauty Madlala, a domestic worker at the Timberline Road home. It is thought that while Madlala was hanging up the washing, Wanele played with the dogs and wandered to the poolside, before falling into the pool.

Madlala noticed the girl’s absence and went in search of her.

She discovered the dogs trying to pull Wanele out of the pool and her screams alerted a neighbour who raised the alarm. The toddler was declared dead at the scene by paramedics.

Bite marks evident on her arms suggest that the dogs had tried to pull her from the water.

Homeowner Jenny Cartwright said that Madlala had taken Wanele in, while her mother finished school in kwaMashu.

“Beauty was never able to have children and to be able to look after Wanele was a real blessing for her. She loved her so dearly.”

She said that Wanele loved playing with Molly and Max and that they were inseparable. “I know that the dogs would have been trying to pull her out of the pool. They would never hurt anyone.”

The sodden dogs were towel-dried by Cartwright while they were photographed by police detectives at the scene. Madlala was too distraught to speak to The Witness.

Labrador Retriever Kennel Club chairperson Renier Jansen van Rensburg said the Labradors were very protective of children.

“You will often see a Labrador placing itself between a child and danger.

“It is not uncommon for a Labrador to jump into a pool when someone is swimming and try to pull them out.”

He added that attempting to save the drowning child was not unheard of for this breed of dog.

“These animals act on instinct and because they are retrievers, it is in their nature.”

Police spokesperson Thulani Zwane said that police officers from Prestbury have opened an inquest docket and the investigation would continue. “A post-mortem will be conducted to determine the cause of death of the girl.”

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