Two-year-old pit bull Rufy underwent surgery at the Animal Welfare Society. Picture: Supplied
Cape Town - A dog has been hailed a hero after he was shot in the face while protecting a man from robbers.

The dog, a two-year-old pit bull named Rufy, had to undergo a life-saving operation on Sunday, 13 May, at the Animal Welfare Society of South Africa in Philippi after his lower jaw was fractured and his teeth shattered by the bullet.

Rufy had been accompanying his owner Sibusiswe Jojo’s brother, Bulelani Jojo, 25, to the KFC in Nyanga and on their way back, two men armed with a gun demanded his cellphone and wallet.

Sibusiswe tells the Daily Voice after her brother handed over his possessions, Rufy jumped at one of the alleged, who pulled a gun and shot at point-blank range.

“I was at work when this incident happened and when I was notified, I began to cry. If it wasn’t for Rufy, they would have shot my brother and it saddens me that they did this to my dog,” she says.

She says her brother loves Rufy, and washes him and makes sure he gets to the vet for check-ups.

Allan Perrins, spokesperson for the Animal Welfare Society, says extensive surgery had to be done to save Rufy’s life.

He says they regard Rufy as a hero.

“The bullet went through Rufy’s face, shattering several teeth and fracturing the bottom jaw. Rufy was rushed to the Animal Welfare Society and immediately admitted to surgery for a life-saving operation,” Perrins says.

“The damage caused was severe and it took our senior veterinarian several hours to carefully extract the bullet and pin the dog’s bottom jaw.

“After the delicate operation Rufy was placed in intensive care and given a positive, but guarded, prognosis.

“Rufy’s owners visited him yesterday and although still heavily sedated, he still managed to greet them with a few enthusiastic wags of his tail.

“His resilience and zest for life and recovery has been remarkable and he has been given a good prognosis for a full recovery.

“The incident has been reported to police and charges of animal cruelty will be added to the armed robbery docket.”