ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Nine-year-old Marianne Gonzales was so engrossed with memorizing the prayer for her first communion as she was walking just outside the house of Geolar Tan inside Summer Hill Subdivision in Barangay (village) Pasonanca here on Monday afternoon that she failed to notice the fast-approaching Belgian Malinois, which had managed to cut loose from its collar.
In seconds, the dog leaped towards her and sank its fangs into the girl’s neck, who barely managed to shout for help.
Two more fatal bites to her face and nape and Marianne was dead.
The attack was witnessed by Marianne’s younger sister, seven-year-old Ellamarie and her cousin, 12-year-old Maricel Pahamutang.
But they could not do anything against the rampaging dog except to run home and told Marianne’s mother, Mardelyn, who was then attending to her youngest child, about it.
“I thought she was only bitten by a dog and we rushed to the area only to find out that my eldest daughter was already lifeless, her neck badly damaged,” Mardelyn said.
Even then, they brought her to the Western Mindanao Medical Center but she had no chances of surviving the dog attack, she said.
Ryan Gonzales, Marianne’s father, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that one of the caretakers saw the attack but instead of helping his daughter, the caretaker dragged her towards the main road and “ran inside the house to get a bigger collar.”
“It was as if they were used to such kind of incident before. They treated my girl like a food left by a dog. They dumped her after she was bitten. They didn’t do anything to stop the dog,” he claimed.
In an interview with the Inquirer, Efigenio Julian Jr., Pasonanca barangay chair, called Tan’s dog a “killer dog.”
“I spent my life as an investigator and the way the dog bit the girl, I am sure it’s a killer dog, a dog trained to kill,” Julian said.
He said that the girl’s family resided outside the subdivision but he took the route by Tan’s home as a shortcut.
Ryan confirmed Julian’s story and added that school children like her daughter were used to passing by Tan’s house and it was the first time that the dog attacked a human.
Senior Supt. Edwin de Ocampo, city police director, said Tan and the dog’s handler were being investigated.
The police have taken custody of the dog.
“They could be held liable for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide,” De Ocampo said, when asked what case to file against the owner and the handler.
Local veterinarian Dr. Anton Lim said he was the one looking after the dog’s health and was surprised to know it attacked a human.
“That Belgian Malinois is a working canine and this dog was very calm. I am just wondering what had happened prior to the incident,” Lim said.
Lim said he wanted to know what transpired before the attack so he could provide an opinion on why the dog attacked a human.