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Witness to pitbull attack claims bystander made threats

File photograph

A witness to a pitbull attack last week on a couple visiting from the United States claimed she and her elderly mother were threatened at the scene by another driver who stopped during the incident.

The woman described a chaotic scene on the morning of May 21 on South Road, Warwick, near Southlands, when a large marauding dog knocked a man into traffic, which she said included an eastbound bus.

She said she was driving west on a motorcycle with her elderly mother as a passenger, and witnessed the man’s close call with traffic.

“He got up just in time, or we would be talking about something very different,” said the woman, who requested that her name be withheld.

“This pitbull needs to be found because this man almost lost his life. Bermuda needs to know there is a vicious dog hanging around. It could happen again.”

The attack left the visitor with bite wounds to his leg, after he was accosted by a dog running loose in the area of Southlands park, along with road rash from the fall.

The visitor, a physician, was able to treat the injuries with his first-aid kit.

The couple were on the island to meet the family of their son’s fiancée, with a wedding planned in Bermuda.

The Royal Gazette reported on Wednesday that the family praised local drivers who pulled over to assist.

However, the injured man emphasised that the danger from the attack as well as his narrow escape from being struck by traffic could have hurt the island’s image.

He also suggested tighter restrictions on breeds with a potential to pose risks.

The debate over pitbulls, which are popular pets on the island, has pitted advocates for restricted breeds against objectors to the ban getting relaxed in 2018.

In 2022, the SPCA decried “the devastating effect of irresponsible breeding, lack of care and disposable attitude towards pitbulls and pitbull mixes” that left the dogs caught in the middle.

The woman who spoke on Wednesday to the Gazette said that as she drew up on the scene, she “saw the tourist running backwards — he fell back”.

She said the bus or other vehicles, which halted for the man in the road, could easily have struck him.

The victim said traffic appeared to startle the dog, which he took to be a pitbull or American Bully, into releasing his leg.

The woman said: “I pulled my bike over and saw this dog was going to chew him up. The couple were in shock. I was trying to chase the dog away.”

She said she saw blood “dripping off his leg”.

“I told him not to walk and calm down a little.”

She added that when a car pulled over, she assumed the driver was coming to the couple’s aid.

The woman recalled: “He started cursing us out. When I said this man almost got run over, he said ‘that’s his f***ing business’.

“He was taking pictures of the dog and saying ‘you’re going to get me in trouble’ to it.

“What has Bermuda come to? This man cursed at us because we stopped to help a tourist?”

She said they left after the male driver’s threats alarmed them — and requested to be put in contact with the victim’s family to decide how to report the incident.

The family praised the response from dog wardens, who told them that tracking down the owner of an animal running loose would pose a challenge.

The Ministry of Home Affairs said on Tuesday evening that the attack was under review.

A spokesman said: “The animal wardens can confirm receipt of this report and the matter is under investigation.

“As such, no details can be shared at this time.”

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Published May 31, 2024 at 7:56 am (Updated May 31, 2024 at 7:56 am)

Witness to pitbull attack claims bystander made threats

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