Felicity, a 2-year-old, was found unconscious and roughed up after she was viciously attacked by four puppies.
Sierra Michele Peden, a 30-year-old mother of four, was left traumatized when she saw her two-year-old, Felicity, covered in scratches and missing an ear. The family is now raising awareness about the incident as the entire ordeal is said to have happened within the 10 minutes that the child was left unattended with four puppies the family adopted in May 2022.
Family Warns Others of the Danger of 'Littermate Syndrome' After Pack of Puppies Maul Toddler https://t.co/zn11BPQyKg— People (@people) June 14, 2022
In a GoFundMe fundraiser started by Linnea Louise, Peden's mother, to help cover the medical expenses for Felicity, the family revealed that in the weeks since they adopted the four puppies named Amarah, Negan, Gideon and Keerah, the canines had given them no reason to believe that they would be aggressive with the children.
This was why it was so surprising to them that the dogs would attack their little girl. Peden, her husband Michael, and their four kids, Samantha, 13, Daisy, 11, Felicity, 2, and Daryl, 1, were all outside preparing for a "housewarming party/double birthday bash" earlier this month when the traumatizing incident occurred. Peden went to take a quick shower as she had plans to go out shopping with her friend to the closest Dollar Tree in Bakersfield which is an hour away from their home in Onyx, California. When she came out of the shower, she found her eldest child sitting on the couch with her one-year-old son and asked her to help Michael take care of the other kids.
#littermatesyndrome is also known as #nature and exactly what a pack of young dogs is supposed to do in the wild, bond together to hunt and feed their family. Too bad this kid got hurt, totally not any of the dogs fault. https://t.co/8eeVyl0Hnv— Runs with Scissors (@Chris_Souza0914) June 14, 2022
After leaving, she called Michael, told him where the kids were and informed him that she would be gone for three hours. She also asked him: "You have Felicity, right?" to which he replied: "No, I think she followed everyone inside, I don't see her." The Pedens have a massive backyard of half an acre with three sheds, a chicken coup and trees. When the child's mom notified her friend of this development, she offered to turn back around but they continued driving as Peden assured her that Felicity was probably back in the house with her siblings.
https://t.co/UKjFmaT764— rosie (@Rosie01marie) June 4, 2022
Please help my beautiful niece & her family get through this horrible accident. 💔 Anything helps. Donate, pray, share the link, send some healing vibes! ♥️ pic.twitter.com/x1XFMME5mU
Just ten minutes after Peden left home though, she received another phone call from the house but due to the choppy reception, it sounded something like, "dad... fel... bleeding... hospital..." She and her friend immediately made a U-Turn and rushed to the hospital where they found the two-year-old in a severely injured state. The 12-week-old Queensland Labrador puppies had deeply scratched her face and eaten off most of her ear. Felicity had to be life-flighted to a children's hospital in Fresno where doctors spend three hours in plastic surgery. After the procedure, doctors reportedly informed the family that they were unable to save most of the child's ear apart from her earlobe and inner ear.
Littermate syndrome is when two puppies adopted from the same litter give more attention to each other than their adopted family. pic.twitter.com/AbSBNnyLvb— Dr. Karen Becker (@drkarenbecker) February 22, 2017
Felicity's condition got worse as her kidneys were failing and her body was shutting down due to the trauma. The doctors recommended putting her on dialysis, Mirror reported. "Before the incident, she was full of joy, smiles and mischief, but initially we were worried she would be left with a different future ahead of her," Peden said. Fortunately, over the next few days, the swelling on Felicity's face started reducing and her internal organs also didn't sustain any permanent damage. Presently she is "recovering beautifully" but will have to undergo more surgical procedures in the future.
The family now hopes their tragic story will spread awareness about the dangers of Littermate Syndrome, a serious behavioral condition that occurs when sibling dogs are kept together for a period longer than eight to ten weeks. They start to develop a pack mentality, bond together too tightly and start becoming anxious about other dogs and humans. This leads them to exhibit some aggressive behavior towards others. It leads even non-aggressive breeds like Labradors to show aggressive behavior, West Suburban Humane Society explains on its website.
The puppies have since been handed to Animal Control Services who assured the family that the dogs will not have to be put down. Instead, they will be separated and trained for rehoming. "It's believed they are unlikely to attack again if they are separated," said Peden. But if they do continue to show aggressive behavior, they will sadly have to put down the pups. Peden is a seasoned dog parent and has an American Pitbull terrier, Jimmy, whom the family loves deeply.
Tippy & Ella are 9 month old littermates. They came in as their owner couldn't cope with their behaviour. At Hope Rescue we won't rehome littermates together due tot he potential for behavioural issues. Read more about littermate syndrome here: https://t.co/RGe0efjJVj #rescuedogs pic.twitter.com/375cnMYPJ8— Hope Rescue (@HopeRescue) September 8, 2020