Bernie suddenly became aggressive, sinking its teeth into the girl’s face, tearing through her skin, leaving a deep cut across the neck and splitting her top lip all the way up to the nose.
Lizanne said: ‘I heard shouting and as soon as I saw her, my mother instinct kicked in – I wasn’t thinking except how to stop the blood from pouring.
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‘Her lip was completely ripped open and she had a huge wound near her neck – it’s amazing that didn’t hit a major artery.’Mené’s parents, who are originally from South Africa, rushed her to hospital where doctors told them she would need immediate skin grafts.
Lizanne said the 60kg animal, which stands 6ft tall on its hind legs, had never misbehaved before the attack.
The following day, it also savaged Jaco’s arm as he bundled it into the car on the way to an animal shelter where the couple hoped it could be rehabilitated.
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But vets decided that a pet which lashed out more than once was too much of a risk and had to be put down.
Lizanne said: ‘I couldn’t understand it. In that moment, it was like having a different dog.
‘He’d been absolutely fine for almost a year. Until that point he had been perfect with the kids.
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‘He was well trained and we’d never had any issues with him.’Mené had never pulled Bernie’s fur or ears, even at a young age, the 32-year-old added, and the dog ‘loved’ her strokes.
She continued: ‘It’s been nearly a year now but the impact has been huge – it’s hard not to think about the worst that could have happened.
‘My daughter and son are both traumatised and my husband and I both have nightmares about it.
‘We had had him almost a year and he was house trained and perfect with the kids – he’d never flinch and we’d never had any issues but that day he just changed.
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‘He gave no signs he was going to attack – animal instinct you can never really trust and you need to be aware of it.
‘We’re thankful at the end of the day because it could have been so much more serious, but it’s been a hell of a rollercoaster.’
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