Warning: Graphic images
Michele and Michael have four beautiful children – Samantha, 13, Daisy, 11, Felicity, two, and Daryl one. Just last month they decided to add four more to the family – four gorgeous puppies, described as “labrador pups”.
The family had been dreaming about owning the pets for years and were so excited to bring the four puppies – named Amarah, Negan, Gideon and Keerah – home.
For three weeks the children and the puppies got to know each other and during that time, the pups never showed any sign of aggression.
However, on 3 June, the puppies attacked their youngest daughter, Felicity, leaving her with horrific facial injuries including a mutilated ear.
Toddler mauled by puppies
Michele shared her daughter’s story as a way to ensure this sort of dog attack does not happen to any other family.
On the 3rd of June, Michele – who is an experienced dog owner, left the four kids at home with Michael and the pups. She headed to the shops to pick up some items for her youngest’s birthday.
Michael, the pups who were 12 weeks, and the four kids were all outside – the family owns a large property with plenty of space. The kids eventually all made their way back into the house.
However, within just a few minutes, Michael soon noticed that Felicity wasn’t in the house with them.
Michael went outside to find his daughter lying unconscious under a tree, with deep gashes, scratches, and chunks taken out of her ear.
He called Michele immediately, telling her,
I think Felicity’s missing an eye! I found her unconscious lying under the peach tree! Call 911!”
‘All I could smell was puppy slobber’
Michele called 911 and met her husband and Felicity at the hospital where Felicity was taken. Michele was absolutely heartbroken to see her baby, unrecognisable after the attack. She didn’t lose her eye, but she was very badly scratched up and missing part of her ear.
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As Michele writes,
They had eaten her ear and mutilated her face, neck and upper body. She was missing her hair and was covered in bandages and gauze. There were stitches in multiple places, including her lip, neck and throat.
All I could smell was puppy slobber all over her head, which made me want to cry, and I felt sick to my stomach.
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.”
Warning: Graphic Image
Michele wasn’t sure what had exactly happened to her daughter when she arrived at the hospital but she concluded the only thing in the backyard that could have possibly done this was the dogs.
The cops and animal control were having a hard time believing puppies could have done this and thought for sure it was a bob cat or coyote.”
A long road to recovery
Felicity was flown to a specialist children’s hospital with a trauma centre in Fresno, California. She spent seven days in the hospital and required plastic surgery. Unfortunately, after three hours of plastic surgery, the doctors were unable to save much of her ear.
Michele describes the time in hospital to Jam Press:
She struggled to open her eyes and was crying for us, as well as signing that she wanted her ‘baba’ and that she needed to be sick – probably because of the morphine.
Medics informed us she had muscle damage to her face, arms and legs, where she will need many surgeries in the near future.
I wanted to hold her but we couldn’t as we were told her neck injuries were too severe.”
After a few days, the swelling went down and Felicity was able to return to her home in California with weekly appointments to have plastic surgery.
What happened to the puppies?
The puppies have since been removed from the home and taken to an animal shelter. At first, they were to be put down, but local authorities have since decided to separate them and rehome them.
While we loved our little pups, we’ve now sent them to a shelter for rehoming and due to their young age, it’s believed they are unlikely to attack again if they are separated,” Michele explains.
They believe the pups suffer from littermate syndrome which is when puppies from the same litter live together and develop such a strong attachment to each other that it interferes with their ability to interact in a normal manner with other people, other dogs, or any situation where they are not together.
They can turn instantly violent towards others – so after the attack on Felicity they ended up attacking each other as well,” Michele said.
“The pups also managed to get inside our chicken coop where they killed nine of my 15 chickens.
If they can’t be adopted or still show signs of aggression after training, they will sadly have to be put down.”
‘We take full responsibility’
Since the attack, Michele and her family are raising awareness of the dangers of littermate syndrome and adopting siblings pups. Friends have also established a GoFundMe account to help with the costs associated with Felicity’s recovery.
On the GoFundMe page, it says,
It’s proven that puppies do best when brought home separately. If you want multiple dogs, consider purchasing or adopting adult dogs who are already done developing instead.
We don’t want what happened to our family to happen to anyone else ever again. The only way to help make sure of that is to bring light to this issue. Spread the word about Littermate Syndrome!”
Michele also admits that she feels absolutely horrible for what happened to her daughter and had no idea the pups could turn aggressive. This is why we share this story – in the hopes that it can help to prevent it from happening again.
I blamed myself and the guilt of not seeing the signs was overwhelming. I would never have left Felicity alone with them [if I knew this].
But we accept full responsibility and accountability for this tragedy. [We] are incredibly grateful to all who have extended their love and prayers of support.”
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