An eight-year-old Chilliwack girl is recovering at home after sustaining serious injuries in a pit bull attack last week.
Jenna, a Grade 3 Strathcona elementary student, was looking for bunnies outside her grandparents' Rosedale home last Tuesday when a neighbour's pit bull escaped its enclosure.
The dog attacked Jenna, taking her down at the knees and then clamping down on the young girl's face.
Jenna suffered serious facial injuries and hundreds of stitches. But it could have been much worse if not for the actions of a four-year-old Chihuahua named Honey, according to Jenna's mother, Leslie Desrochers, and grandmother, Anne Marie Desrochers.
The pit bull's owner-who witnessed much of the attack told the Desrochers that tiny Honey drew the dog's attention away from Jenna and onto itself during the attack.
The pit bull released Jenna and pursued and briefly caught Honey, before heading back towards the girl. Fortunately, the pit bull was then collared by its owner, whose entry into the enclosure provided the brief moment necessary for her dog to escape.
Honey's barks brought Anne Marie to the door, where she saw her dog's back covered in blood.
Then, she spotted the neighbour with her granddaughter.
“My dog has bit Jenna,” said the dog's crying owner.
Anne Marie ran over to her granddaughter. But she wasn't prepared for the extent of Jenna's injuries.
“As soon as she moved her hand, I just screamed,” she said.
Anne Marie rushed her granddaughter to Chilliwack General Hospital, where it took doctors three hours and many, many stitches to hopefully repair Jenna's face.
Even so, Jenna faces more doctor's visits and possibly plastic surgery if the initial repair job doesn't hold.
When Mounties at CGH ordered the pit bull destroyed, the dog's owner agreed and complied with the directive. The neighbour later brought a gift for Jenna; Anne Marie told her she was grateful she was there to intervene.
Pit bulls have been the subject of plenty of debate in recent years, with some municipalities enacting bans on the breed. Critics say pit bulls are inherently dangerous attack dogs. But defenders say the danger is only the result of how the dog's are cared for and brought up..
Even the Desrochers are split on the issue. Anne Marie blames the breed, calling pit bulls “vicious.”
Leslie, though, says the attack is more of a reflection of the dog's individual temperament.
She noted that even the dog's owners acknowledged its danger and kept it muzzled and harnessed when outside its enclosure.
“We always knew it was a really vicious dog,” Leslie said. “Jenna knew to stay away from the fence.”
Despite the trauma of the attack - and a couple bad dreams - Jenna has yet to shed a tear over the incident. At the hospital, she told her sobbing mother, “Don't cry, Mommy; it's OK.”