MILTON — A 3-year-old Milton girl is continuing to recover from the physical and emotional scars she has endured in the days following a July 3 pit bull attack.
Janet Quinones said she will never forget the horror her family lived through on the evening before Independence Day.
Quinones lives on Hepburn Street with her three children, Jason, Jazmine and Jaelynn. As part of a holiday weekend celebration, the family was invited to a pool party at a nearby friend’s home.
When they arrived at the home, Quinones said 3-year-old Jaelynn went inside after asking to use the restroom.
“I heard screams,” Janet recalled. “I went inside... I picked up my daughter. All I saw was blood. She was screaming.”
Janet said her daughter was mauled by her friend’s 1-year-old pit bull. Because their families were friends at the time, Janet requested the dog’s owner not be named.
“I saw one side (of Jaelynn’s face) had more blood than the other,” Janet recalled. “I pressed against that side, to help stop the bleeding.
“The emotion, I didn’t know where the blood was coming from,” she continued. “I dropped to the floor.... I did not see how bad her wounds were until we got to the hospital.”
Members of the two families transported Jaelynn to Evangelical Community Hospital for treatment.
According to Janet, Jaelynn received more than 20 stitches to treat a wound on her face, in the area of her eye. She also received treatment for puncture wounds on various other parts of her body.
Jaelynn has been under medical observation for a liver condition which could cause cancer. However, Janet said the wounds her daughter sustained in the attack did not impact that condition.
The days following the attack have been difficult for the family.
“My daughter went to plastic surgeons,” Janet said. “She was going to get a skin graft... They decided not to do the skin graft, to let it heal.”
Jaelynn is tentatively scheduled for surgery this summer to help remove a scar which she still has on her face.
She continues to see doctors weekly for help dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder caused by the incident, Janet said.
“(Jaelynn) had nightmares, she would scream,” Janet recalled. “She would say ‘the dog is here.’ We had multiple nights of non sleep.
“Her smile got deleted from her face for quite some time.”
While the Quinones family has a small dog, Janet said Jaelynn remains scared of big dogs.
According to court documents filed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Dog Law Enforcement Office, and provided by Janet, the dog’s owner was found guilty of harboring a dangerous dog as a result of the incident.
That family had the dog euthanized Nov. 11 at Sunbury Animal Hospital, according to documentation provided by Janet.
Paperwork provided by Janet from the Dog Law Enforcement Office said Warden Brandi Burkett visited the dog’s home on July 11 and learned the dog was not licensed and did not have a rabies vaccination.
During a July 15 visit, Burkett reported learning the family “knew the dog had aggression towards children.”
Janet said there are lessons to be learned from the experiences her family has gone through.
“To big dog owners, don’t take any chances,” she said. “If you think your dog could not hurt a fly, don’t take chances. If you know your animal may or may not have aggressive tendencies, don’t take chances.
“To anybody that has a pit bull, don’t take chances,” Janet said, adding that pet owners should keep a close eye when their animals are around children.
She said it’s also crucial for parents to educate themselves about dog laws, and to be there for their child following a dog bite or attack.
“It is a horrible experience,” Janet said. “Show your child that you are there for them. Get the help they need.”
While Jaelynn’s injuries were serious, with a chunk of skin being torn from her face, Janet said it could have been worse.
“Every (doctor) that saw her said she was lucky not to lose her eye and that it wasn’t worse,” Janet said.
She noted that Jaelynn attends an Early Head Start program through the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit (CSIU). She credits the educators with being supportive of Jaelynn as she continues to recover from the incident.
“The school has done so good with her,” Janet said. “They’ve been really, really good with her.”