A toddler was left with horrific injuries after she was attacked by the family’s “perfect” St Bernard.
Mother Lizanne Naudé ran to help when she heard screams for her in the kitchen - and found her one-year-old covered in blood.
The 32-year-old mum-of-two realised their dog - which weighed 60kg and stood at 6ft-tall on its hind legs - had attacked tiny Mené and bit her on the face.
The tot was left scarred and needed skin grafts after the dog’s teeth tore through her skin and ripped her lip in two.
Ms Naudé says the dog was a well-trained family pet which was once “calm and placid” - and had never behaved in that way before.
But after the dog went onto sink his teeth into father Jaco Naudé’s arm when they were putting him into the car, he had to be put down.
Now tech support lead Ms Naudé, from Johannesburg, South Africa, wants to warn other parents that you can “never really trust animal instinct” after the attack came from nowhere - and left the whole family traumatised.
She 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.
“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.
“We had no idea how she would even look after the skin grafts and face surgery because she was so bandaged up.
“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,” she continued.
“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.
“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.”
The mother said the attack, which happened on August 22, 2021, came totally out of the blue.
Every week the family would have to return to the hospital to check all 14 wounds to ensure none of them had become infected.
Mené’s entire face was bandaged up to the point that her skin was barely visible - and the parents had no idea how she would look until the bandages came off.
Now, Mené’s wounds have healed although she has been left with a number of red scars that she is having treatment for at a clinic.
But the trauma has left her unable to speak properly and she still “babbles” now - despite being able to say some words before the accident.
Ms Naudé said: “It has had a traumatic effect on her and on our whole family.
“We still don’t understand it - Mené used to love sitting next to Bernie and stroking his fur.
“He loved it too, she would never pull his fur or ears, even at a young age.
“But we are very thankful at the end of the day - the doctor said we are lucky everything was well aligned so it didn’t hit her eye or neck.
“It could have been so much worse and hopefully by the age of 10 she won’t have any visible scars left.”