Mother, 30, ‘traumatised’ after vicious dog attack leaves her daughter’s face unrecognizable
A mother of four has shared her traumatic experience after several puppies mutilated her daughter in a matter of minutes: chunks of her ear were missing and her face was covered in scratches.
Michele Peden, 30, from California, USA, lives with her husband, Michael, and their four children, Samantha, 13, Daisy, 11, Felicity, two, and Daryl, one.
In May 2022, they decided to adopt four Queensland Labrador puppies named Amarah, Negan, Gideon and Keerah, pets they had dreamed of for years.
On June 3, while preparing for her youngest son’s birthday, Michele went shopping while her husband stayed home with the kids.
Shortly after, he received the call that all parents dread: their daughter had been mutilated by animals.
The tragic incident occurred in just 10 minutes.
Arriving at the hospital, Michele was horrified to discover that Felicity was unconscious with deep cuts, bloody scratches all over her face, and pieces that had been removed from her ear.
“His ear had been eaten off and his face, neck and upper body had been mutilated,” he told Jam Press.
Felicity appears before and after the incident, when four Queensland Labrador puppies adopted by their mother mutilated the baby while its parents were away.
The Labrador puppies are named Amarah, Negan, Gideon and Keerah, pets the couple had dreamed of having for years. The puppies were taken to an animal shelter after local authorities decided they did not need to be euthanized and should instead be separated as the puppies suffered from littermate syndrome.
“All I could smell was puppy drool all over his head, which made me want to cry and feel sick to my stomach.
Her hair was missing and she was covered in bandages and gauze.
‘There were stitches in multiple places, including the lip, neck and throat.
“I cried, my heart was broken and I felt like I was going to pass out, the feeling of not being able to do anything to help my baby was overwhelming.
‘I blamed myself and the guilt of not seeing the signs was overwhelming.
“At the time, I had no other information, but I came to the conclusion that the only thing in the backyard that could have caused that kind of damage was the puppies.”
In a bid to raise awareness and prevent the tragedy from happening to other families, the parents have shared their story on social media, where it has since gone viral.
They also launched a GoFundMe to raise money for Felicity’s mounting hospital bills, which currently stands at $2,800 of a goal of $25,000.
Due to the girl’s serious injuries, she was airlifted to a specialized children’s hospital with a trauma center in Fresno, California, where she received plastic surgery in an attempt to save her ear.
Michele said: “After three hours of plastic surgery, they were unable to save much of her ear except her earlobe and inner ear.
“She struggled to open her eyes and was crying for us, as well as signing that she loved her ‘baba’ and that she needed to be sick, probably due to the morphine.”
The doctors informed us that he had muscle damage to his face, arms and legs, where he will need many surgeries in the near future.
“I wanted to hug her but we couldn’t because we were told her neck injuries were too serious.
“Before the incident, she was full of joy, smiles and mischief, but at first we were worried that she would be left with a different future ahead of her.”
Due to the girl’s serious injuries, she was airlifted to a specialized children’s hospital with a trauma center in Fresno, California.
The girl received plastic surgery in an attempt to save her ear, but most of it failed to recover. Felicity stabilized and the swelling on her face began to reduce, where scans revealed that she had not sustained any lasting damage to her internal organs or neck.
The nightmare continued when doctors told the parents that their daughter’s kidneys were failing and her body was beginning to shut down from the trauma, so they suggested putting her on dialysis.
Over the next few days, Felicity stabilized and the swelling on her face began to reduce, where scans revealed no permanent damage to her internal organs or neck.
She has since improved and been released from the hospital after seven days, but still attends plastic surgery appointments once a week.
After she turns seven, Felicity will have another plastic surgery on her face and part of her rib will be removed to build a new ear.
The family’s four puppies were taken to an animal shelter after local authorities decided they did not need to be euthanized and should instead be separated due to littermate syndrome.
Michele said: “Littermate syndrome rarely occurs in canine siblings who have been raised in the same household beyond the normal 10 weeks of age.
‘As a result, a host of behavioral problems can present themselves as they attempt to display ‘herd behaviors’.
“They can become instantly violent with each other, so after the attack on Felicity they ended up attacking each other as well.
She has since improved and was released from the hospital after seven days, but still attends plastic surgery appointments once a week.
His mother says he is recovering well. After turning seven, Felicity will have another plastic surgery on her face and part of her rib will be removed to build a new ear.
The pups also found their way into our coop where they killed nine of my 15 chickens.
“While we love our little pups, we now send them to a shelter to rehouse them and due to their young age, it is believed they are unlikely to attack again if separated.”
“Police and animal control had a hard time believing the pups could have done this and thought for sure it was a bobcat or coyote.
“If they can’t be adopted or still show signs of aggression after training, they will unfortunately have to be euthanized.”
Michele, who is an experienced dog owner, also owns an American Pit Bull Terrier, Jimmy, who is loved dearly by the family.
He agreed to adopt the four mongrel puppies of a friend who was moving out of the area and couldn’t take them with him.
Michele added: “In the three weeks we had the pups, they showed no signs that they might become aggressive.
I would never have left Felicity alone with them. [if I knew this] but we accept full responsibility for this tragedy, but we are incredibly grateful to everyone who has extended their love and prayers of support.
She is doing very well now and will be in therapy to help her learn how to cope. [with the trauma].
“Our Felicity is a strong and resilient angel who will overcome everything she has endured and we hope that the trauma will be forgotten in time as she heals.”
While sharing their daughter’s journey on Instagram, the parents have flooded the comments with their reactions to the tragedy.
“My God, my heart aches for what happened, but I’m so happy for his recovery,” one user commented. [sic]
Someone else added: ‘I can only imagine how scared she was! I am very sorry this happened.
‘Girl I don’t think I’ll let my kids play in the front yard anymore man,’ another person said.
The GoFundMe can be found here.
Michele was out shopping while her husband stayed home with the kids.
WHAT IS LITTERMATE SYNDROME?
Littermate syndrome is a non-scientific term used to describe a number of behaviors that can occur if puppies from the same litter are raised together.
While there is a dearth of scientific literature in the field, professional dog breeders, such as guide dog charities, generally avoid breeding dogs from the same litter together due to the risk of developing codependency.
Many dogs raised in the same litter become timid and find it difficult to separate from their siblings later in life.
Others display a range of behaviors, some of which may include aggressive play and, in rare cases, fighting.
Fighting between siblings of the same sex can become severe, even dangerous, as they mature.
Despite many trainers expressing concern about the phenomenon, many dog owners say they have raised puppies from the same litter together and have never had a problem.
Trainers recommend introducing a second puppy into the home after the first is properly trained, to set a good example for the newcomer.
At a minimum, two puppies should be crated and cared for separately, including separate walks, training classes, and playtime with their owners.