A toddler suffered horrific injuries when her forearm was torn off by a ‘wolf-dog’ hybrid while visiting her grandmother’s animal sanctuary.
Two-year-old Sophia was visiting the Howling Timbers Animal Sanctuary in Muskegon, in the US state of Michigan, on July 23 when she reached into the animal’s cage.
The sanctuary’s owner and Sophia’s grandmother, Brenda Pearson, is under investigation for operating the facility without required permits.
Officials removed a half-dozen red foxes, three coyotes and other animals from the unlicensed rehabilitation centre last week, and found a further 47 dogs that are believe to have been crossbred with wolves or other wolf-dog hybrids, according to Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources.
“No person should be allowed near those dogs,” conservation officer Anna Cullen said in a release.
“It’s not fair to this child who lost an arm. We are doing everything we can to ensure the safety of anyone who may encounter any animal at Howling Timbers, including the health and safety of all the animals at the facility.”
A GoFundMe page for Sophia has raised almost $8000 to go towards her medical expenses.
“As many of you know Sophia was involved in a horrific incident a few weeks ago and unfortunately lost part of her arm,” the crowdfunding page reads.
“As you can see in the photo she is doing very well and still has that beautiful smile, but does have a long road ahead of her.”
Grandmother says girl lost her arm due to fence - not animal attack
Sophia may have reached through a chain-link fence to touch the “shiny collar” of a penned animal, Pearson said in a Facebook post to the Howling Timbers page.
“We believe she grabbed his collar and he pulled to get away. She then got her arm stuck in the fence at the elbow and lost her arm.
“She had no bite wounds on her arm. She had one tiny cut on her wrist.
“Initially, I reported it as a bite but the more I thought about it, it didn't make sense. If the animal bit an arm that was inside the pen, there would be bite wounds on the hand and lower part of the arm.
Pearson said no animals would be euthanised over the incident because the park found no aggression or attack occurred.
The girl was rushed to a hospital where she underwent surgery on her right arm, Pearson added.
Owner under investigation
Pearson, 59, said Saturday that Cullen told her in July that she could start taking in wildlife at Howling Timbers and that she was licensed.
But Cullen claimed after a surprise visit in September that she didn’t have the authority to say the license was approved, Pearson told The Associated Press via telephone.
Pearson said she has been in business 27 years and continues to care for the wolf-dog hybrids because they can’t be released into the wild.
Pearson said the animals are not bred at Howling Timbers and that her organisation collects them from inside and outside Michigan.
It is illegal in Michigan to crossbreed wolves and dogs without a permit.
- with Associated Press
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