Family of man mauled by dogs blame hospital for his death

Taryn Fisher holds a photograph of her boyfriend Bradley King, 43, who was mauled by three dogs.

A Beacon Valley mother is reeling after her son was mauled by three pitbulls and died a day after being discharged from Mitchell’s Plain District Hospital.

Yesterday, Tuesday July 12, Juanita King filed a complaint against the hospital regarding the medical treatment her son Bradley King, 43, received on arrival at the trauma unit on Monday June 27.

“My son was sent home to die. Bradley did not receive the proper treatment that he was supposed to get,” she said.

Ms King said the pathologist assured her that her son had died as a result of the injuries he sustained when the dogs bit him.

“They found a disease under the skin, which was caused by the dog bites,” she said.

“When my son arrived home a day later he reeked of rotten flesh and he had begged them to stay in hospital because he was not feeling well,” she said.

Ms King said her son only received his medication 19 hours after being discharged from hospital on Tuesday June 28. She had to fetch it because the pharmacy was closed when he left the hospital at 5.45pm.

“He was in so much pain (but) there was nothing we could do for him. We could not touch him. He was vomiting. His skin was burning,” she said.

Ms King said he was released with a J88 form and no referral letter to the day hospital.

“We as the family believe that due to Mitchell’s Plain District Hospital’s negligence Bradley King passed away,” read their complaint.

Mr King’s girlfriend, Taryn Fisher, who was present when the attack happened said wagging tails greeted them when they arrived at his house in Eastridge on Monday June 27.

Hours later he was hanging a T-shirt on the line, when Ms Fisher heard the dogs bark and Mr King telling the dogs “No, stop it”.

“He screamed at me to close the door and go into the room. I couldn’t help him because I had my four-year-old son with me,” she said.

During the last peep through the gap of the door she saw Blaze, the father of the two younger dogs, appearing to fend his sons off from Mr King.

Eventually Mr King made it into the kitchen but the dogs were still yapping at his legs and arms.

Ms Fisher said the screaming for help never stopped and that neighbours had reported the fight going on for about an hour.

When she came out and Mr King was covering his face.

“There was blood everywhere. We tried to keep him awake and he was in terrible pain.

“We cut his clothes off so we could see the wounds,” she said.

When they cleaned the kitchen after paramedics had taken Mr King away, said Ms Fisher, they spotted chunks of flesh.

Ms Fisher said they called the hospital almost every hour to check up on Mr King but each time they were told he had not yet been admitted. When they called again the following day, Tuesday June 28, they were told that there were 56 patients ahead of Mr King.

When they called later again, they were told that he would be discharged close to 6pm.

“He could barely walk on his left leg. He needed assistance and had asked to be kept at hospital,” said Ms Fisher.

She said that it took almost an hour for Mr King to move from the car into his mother’s house in Beacon Valley.

On Wednesday June 29 Ms Fisher went to bathe and tend to Mr King, who had to slide along the floor to get from his bedroom to the bathroom.

She said his wounds were oozing and emitting a bad odour. “The wounds that we saw days earlier looked exactly the same – like they did nothing for him at the hospital,” she said.

Even though Mr King’s tongue had become swollen, he was hesitant to return to hospital, but when he was eventually rushed to hospital, he was taken to the resuscitation area.

“I saw doctors rush to the area and thought… they’re attending to another patient. I did not expect them to come tell me it is Bradley,” she said.

Mr King’s mother Juanita King said they had called Law Enforcement ten times on Wednesday June 29 to have the dogs taken care of. “We feared that the dogs may hurt someone else. They only came on Saturday July 2,” she said.

By the time this story was published, however, the City of Cape Town had not yet responded to Plainsman’s enquiry about this.

Monique Johnstone, principal communications officer for the Western Cape department of health and wellness in the Klipfontein / Mitchell’s Plain Substructure, extended their condolences to the family.

“The hospital follows the National Guideline of Complaints Management which allows for an investigation and outcome to be communicated within 25 working days, however feedback will be forthcoming as soon as an outcome is available,” read the hospital’s response to the complaint.

Mr Johnstone said the medical team’s notes indicate that Mr King arrived via the ambulance with injuries to his body from dog bites.

“He received morphine for the pain on arrival and his wounds were washed out with saline and dressed with antiseptic wound dressing,” she said.

Ms Johnstone said once treated, he received a tetanus injection and intravenous fluid for blood loss.

He was sent for x-rays which showed no underlying fractures.

“He was started on antibiotics due to the risk of infection and discharged home the next day with a prescription for medication as the hospital does not have an after-hours pharmacy service on weekends,“ said Ms Johnstone.

Mr King’s body was sent to Salt River Mortuary for a post-mortem examination to determine the cause of his death.

She said his next of kin would be informed when the post-mortem was concluded.

Cape of Good Hope’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) SPCA chief inspector Jaco Pieterse said that any dog could bite or maul a person.

And while the “majority of the attacks in Cape Town are indeed by pitbull crosses,” he said, “it is not only limited to pitbulls.”

Ultimately, he said, it all comes down to how the dog is raised.

“If a dog is raised to be aggressive and kept on a chain then the dog tends to be more aggressive and more likely to attack a person.

“Blaming pitbulls for all the attacks is not fair.

“It is irresponsible owners that do not raise their dogs correctly and do not keep them confined to their property,” he said.

A court or Law Enforcement decides whether a dog should be euthanized, he added.

Mr Pieterse said as a rule the SPCA does not rehome aggressive animals as they cannot place the lives of people and other animals at risk.

“By rehoming an aggressive animal the SPCA will be acting irresponsibly,” he said.

Incidents in which animals attack people, he said, were handled by the police and Law Enforcement as the SPCA did not have jurisdiction in terms of the Animal Matters Amendment Act and the Animal Keeping By Law.