Maya’s Story

29th Sep, 2016

Written by Jane Richman and photography by Chris Wall Media

Recently, during an attempted armed home invasion on a smallholding, Maya, an 18-month-old Pit Bull Terrier, heard a suspicious noise outside her home’s front entrance. The brave dog dashed outside – only to come face to face with armed intruders. Her owners, Thys Mulder and his wife, Mal, were just about to sit down and enjoy their supper, unaware of the drama unfolding outside their front door... 

A shocking discovery

Suddenly, two loud gunshots ran out. The Mulders ran to call the neighbourhood watch WhatsApp group, Drift Reaction. Thys ran to see what was going on as Maya crawled slowly back inside. It was at that moment that Mal discovered that Maya had been shot. The whole kitchen floor was covered in blood. The callous criminals had run away after critically wounding the brave Pit Bull.

Samantha Burrill, a member of the emergency WhatsApp group, called animal rescuer Helga Tsoumbris, who contacted Ruimsig Veterinary Hospital after hours, and arranged for Dr Dave Shipster and his wife, Dr Sue, to rush to the hospital. There they waited for the stricken dog and her shaken owner.

After a traumatic drive in the dark, during which they became lost, Maya and Thys reached the hospital where Maya was quickly assessed by the doctors and stabilised. A bullet had passed through her ear, into her side and just missing her spine before exiting through her left hind leg. After Maya was stabilised and stitched, Dr Dave and his wife decided to drive the visibly shaken Thys home. Compassion for animals and their humans is clearly paramount at this Animal Practice.


Maya’s trauma was not over; she remained in hospital for four more nights. Helga went to visit Maya on Saturday, which was when Thys first met her; both Helga and Samantha visited Maya on Monday again, together with Thys, where he met Samantha for the first time. They are amazing people. The following morning, Dr Dave discharged her and this courageous dog returned home to a rapturous welcome by Thys and Mal. Samantha Burrill and Helga Tsoumbris, who’d been instrumental in assisting the family that fateful night, were there to share in the joy. 

But there was still the matter of the veterinary account… The kind-hearted Helga issued an appeal on Facebook, and animal-loving well-wishers paid the entire veterinary account in full: Maya’s Fan Club!

We cannot begin to imagine what would have happened that fateful night if the armed intruders had managed to gain entry into the Mulder home. What we do know, for sure, is that Maya the hero Pit Bull’s act of bravery caused her to take a bullet for her human companion. Thys is certain that should the intruders have entered the house, he or his wife could have become statistics in South Africa’s deadly criminal reality.

It’s often easy to ignore the courageous acts of bravery that our animal companions display. However, times like this make us realise that these faithful, sentient creatures really are man’s best friends.