updated 11/01/2011 AT 3:00 PM ET
•originally published 11/01/2011 AT 4:00 PM ET
Warrior the dog has earned her name.
The stray was left for dead when she was buried alive in a field near a Cape Town, South Africa, school by two janitors who said they were told to get rid of the pooch by a supervisor last month.
The resilient canine survived being tossed in a pit at least 3-ft. deep and is now in the safe care of rescuers at the Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Khayelitsha, where she got her new name.
“We’re all so hopeful that she’s getting better. It’s horrible to be buried alive, and by the X-rays, it appears she was beaten with a hard object,” clinic coordinator Jane Levinson tells PEOPLE. “She’s really very robust; it seems like she’s recovering very well.”
The homeless dog’s life was saved by a single phone call. A cleaner at the Luhlaza Secondary School alerted workers at the animal clinic after she saw the two men digging a hole and placing the live dog into it.
“Veterinarian Dr. Edson Man’Ombe and Animal Welfare carer Lazola Sotyingwa immediately rushed to the school and apprehended two janitors on the school field,” Christine Pretorius, a spokeswoman for the International Fund for Animal Welfare told the Cape Times. “The men initially claimed the dog was dead, but on further questioning admitted the animal was still alive when they buried it. They said one of the school’s senior supervisors had told them to get rid of the dog as it was being a nuisance by hanging around the classrooms.”
The veterinarians ordered the men to open the pit, where they found the mixed-breed dog clinging to life at the bottom, covered in dirt and debris. Dr. Man’Ombe used a catchpole to pull the pup, believed to be around 4-years-old, to safety.
“She’s still very traumatized but she’s very comfortable with the two vets,” Levinson says. “Especially the one who saved her life, Dr. Edson Man’Ombe.”
The two men were arrested, released soon after, and reportedly returned to work on Nov. 1. A trial is scheduled to begin on Nov. 21, Levinson says.
Levinson hopes that Warrior’s horrific ordeal will be an impetus for change. “We are going to be meeting with the senior prosecutor so that we can prepare and inform him of all the animal protection acts that [the men] should be charged under,” she says. “We’re going to fight all the way. We hope to set a precedent for animal rights in South Africa. We’re determined to fight for justice.”
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