A 2-year-old Michigan girl’s arm was torn off when she reached inside the cage of a wolfdog at her grandmother’s sanctuary and tried to grab its collar, according to reports.
Brenda Pearson, who founded the Howling Timbers Animal Sanctuary in Muskegon, described the horrifying July incident involving Sophia Scraver in a lengthy post on Facebook.
She wrote that she believes her granddaughter “was interested in the shiny collar being worn by one of the wolf dogs. A wolf dog that was friendly, loved to be groomed and preferred human attention over treats.”
Pearson continued: “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.
“After she was rushed to the hospital, I went back to the pen and picked up her little arm. I can still see it today. Her little hand was still closed as if she was still grasping the collar.”
Although she first reported to authorities that the animal bit Sophia, Pearson said that “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,” she wrote, adding that the girl “had no bite wounds on her arm. She had one tiny cut on her wrist.”
The grandmother continued: “If the animal bit the arm from the side, there would be a part of her arm missing. None of that was the case which led me to believe my first assumption was wrong.”
Pearson said she was investigated by Child Protective Services officials “who found no wrong doing on my part.”
“I asked the CPS investigator if he seen any bite wounds in the pictures and he stated that he did not. I would of (sic) given both my arms to save hers but it doesn’t work that way so instead, I will cherish the special little girl that amazes us everyday,” she added.
On Friday, authorities said they found 47 “illegal” wolfdogs at the facility, in addition to “six red foxes, three coyotes, four eastern box turtles and two fawns,” according to the Mirror.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said the sanctuary is believed to have been illegally breeding animals, according to the news outlet.
“Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers led a joint investigation and served a search warrant Friday morning at Howling Timbers, an animal rehabilitation facility in Muskegon that is believed to be illegally breeding and housing animals, including ‘wolf dogs’ – a crossbreed between a wolf and dog (or another wolf dog) that is illegal in Michigan unless necessary permits are obtained,” the DNR said in a statement.
Conservation Officer Anna Cullen said that “no person should be allowed near those dogs. It’s not fair to this child who lost an arm.”
She added: “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.”
The animal sanctuary responded to the agency on Facebook, where it addressed the guidelines it was following and also posted an image of an “animal shelter registration” from the state’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development dated Oct. 19, 2010.
Pearson told the Daily Mail that the three coyotes DNR officials removed had been kept “legally under our wildlife rehabilitation permit” along with the six domestic-bred foxes.
Meanwhile, a friend of the family has launched a GoFundMe effort to raise more for a prosthetic arm for Sophia, who was described as still smiling despite the horrific injury and “doing well.”