Toddler's horrific injuries after being 'mutilated' by puppies
WARNING – GRAPHIC CONTENT: Mum-of-four Michele Peden had only been gone for ten minutes when she got the dreaded phone call to say that her two-year-old daughter had been mauled by a pack of puppies.
Young Felicity had been at home with her dad and siblings when she slipped out of view for a moment, but they never suspected their beloved pets could harm her.
Within moments, they found her little body lying unconscious and covered in bloody gashes. Her face had been "mutilated" and she was missing half an ear.
"She’s missing most of her hair, her ear, she has most of her body covered in gauze and bandages," Ms Peden wrote on Facebook on June 5, two days after the incident happened at their Californian home.
"She has stitches in multiple places. Including inside her lip and outside. The damage to her eye is still not fully known. We know she still has it! It’s still sunken in and doesn’t open as much as the other."
At first, Felicity's panicked dad thought she'd lost her eye entirely and those were the words Ms Peden heard him say on the phone.
The mum called 911 while rushing back home, but she drove past her husband who was racing the injured toddler to the hospital.
Due to the severity of her injuries, Felicity was flown to a specialist children’s hospital in Fresno, California, which had a trauma centre suitable for her care.
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She was rushed into surgery in a bid to save her ear, but after three long hours, not much could be done.
The dog attack left the toddler with muscle damage to her face, arms and legs, and her devastated parents were told she'd need ongoing treatment.
Toddler's 'long road to recovery'
Since the attack, Ms Peden has shared updates on Facebook and on an Instagram page dedicated to her daughter.
The family are already facing a mound of debt thanks to hefty hospital bills, but they hope a GoFundMe campaign they set up can help offer some relief.
As the days went on, Felicity stabilised and the swelling on her face started to reduce.
"Felicity is doing so much better," her mum shared last week, four days after the incident.
"She’s been spiking fevers and throwing up and they’re not quite sure why. They think her body is trying to fight off infection but none of the wounds appear to be infected."
The toddler is now recovering at home with her family after spending seven long days in the hospital, but she has to visit once a week for ongoing plastic surgery.
"The nightmare isn’t over yet," Ms Peden said on Instagram. "She has a long road to recovery and many more surgeries to come."
Family don't blame the dogs
Despite her daughter's horrific injuries, the family don't blame the dogs – which were a labrador mix.
"They ate her ear and mutilated her face, neck, and mainly upper body, but it's not their fault," she said.
Instead, Ms Peden is trying to raise awareness about a condition called littermate syndrome, which she says explains their bad behaviour.
"Littermate Syndrome is a term that refers to a whole host of behavioural issues that tend to present when canine siblings (Littermates) are raised in the same household beyond the normal 8 to 10 weeks of age," she explained in a post on Instagram.
"Although this syndrome is rare, professional trainers recommend AGAINST ever getting two puppies within six months of one another. The risk is too great.
"PLEASE help us spread the word about this potentially deadly issue. The more families know the better. We don’t want what happened to our family to happen to anyone else ever again."
Ms Peden said her family no longer have the dogs.
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