The Warfel Children Supplemental Needs Trust
2101 Oregon Pike
Lancaster, PA 17601
Shortly before 5 p.m. on Monday, June 19, 2017, our lives were forever changed when a loose pit bull escaped its yard and mercilessly attacked both of my babies. Those who know me will tell you I am not one to readily ask for help, but my children are in desperate need. As their mother, I will do everything in my power to help them heal, including accepting the generosity of friends, family and strangers as we start down this long and winding path.
My husband Jeff, son Charles (Charlie), daughter Ruby and I celebrated Father's Day on Sunday and had a full week ahead of us. Little did I know on Tuesday my kids would be recovering from hours of surgery at Penn State Children's Hospital.
On Monday, Ruby, Charlie and I went to our pediatrician for Ruby's 2½-year-old checkup. She received a clean bill of health and we headed home. I drove down the narrow street at the back of our house and backed into our off-street parking spot. I got out of the van first, got Charlie out next as he was sitting behind me on the driver's side, and we walked around the back of the van to the passenger side to get Ruby. Charlie patiently waited behind me and I opened Ruby's door. I was about to unbuckle my little girl from her car seat when the dog bolted across the street and jumped into the open van door. It all happened so fast.
The dog leapt up onto Ruby and started viciously attacking her face. I will spare the details but what Charlie and I witnessed is beyond anyone's worst nightmare. I finally managed to pull the dog off of my daughter and out of the van, but it went straight for my little boy behind me. It knocked him to the ground and began its attack. Looking back it's all a bit blurry. It was raining and the dog was slippery. It didn't have a collar on, making it even harder to get a grip. I was on top of the dog, trying to pry its mouth open with my hands. I received several puncture wounds in the fingers, arm and neck as well as scrapes to my knees and forearms, but my injuries pale in comparison to what my children sustained. I am pregnant and fortunately the baby was not harmed. The three of us were screaming and at some point some people came to try to help. They were yelling commands at me and one of the women had a knife. I will never forget a man hovering over us with the knife saying to me, "I'm sorry. I just can't harm an animal," while watching an animal trying to kill my son as I screamed, "MY BABIES! MY BABIES!"
At some point my son was finally free. He was able to talk and said to me through his tears, "Mummy, that was a really bad dog." I picked up my son and got into the van. My hands were so bloody I had a hard time holding onto my phone. I called 911 and explained what happened and demanded the ambulance arrive as soon as possible. The operator of course couldn't give me a time frame and I knew how much blood my kids had lost. I decided I couldn't wait and drove them to the Lancaster General Hospital emergency room myself. Because of thunderstorms, my kids couldn't be airlifted and had to travel by ambulance to Penn State Children's Hospital. I had to get back into my husband's bloodstained van and rush up to Hershey only to wait something like eight or nine hours for my son's surgery to be finished so that Ruby could have her turn in the operating room. My husband and I waited by the side of our helpless daughter as she lay in her hospital crib while the doctors worked to repair Charlie.
Who are Ruby and Charlie?
Ruby is a spirited two-year-old who loves tutus, Peppa Pig, and the color pink. Charlie (or "Brother" as she calls him) is her best friend. She can be bossy and has been known to stamp her foot for emphasis when petitioning us for "just one more piece of chocolate". Ruby's compassion for others is huge. When she woke up from surgery and saw the scratches on my arm, she immediately said, "Oh no! Your boo boos! I kiss your boo boos." She is looking forward to becoming a big sister in December.
Charlie is a sensitive, gifted five-year-old who loves writing, drawing, Lightning McQueen, and the color red. He relishes his role as the big brother and is extremely protective of his little sister. He had been looking forward to starting kindergarten in eight weeks. He attended pre-kindergarten this past year and learned how to read and write. He aspires to be a famous writer or artist when he grows up. When the swelling in his eyes subsided enough for him to see again, he immediately began drawing pictures to decorate his hospital room.
Expenses and Moving Forward
Ruby and Charlie are lucky to be alive after the attack but they each have a long road ahead of them. Their doctors assure me and Jeff there is a lot of hope for both of our babies but it is simply too early to know for sure what they will need down the line. Every penny donated will go toward the kids' current and future medical expenses. The amount of money they will require will far exceed our family's financial ability or any kind of settlement we can expect. The major costs to our family are listed below:
1. Future surgeries - Because of the severe facial lacerations, nerve and muscle damage each child has suffered, they are guaranteed to need multiple surgeries over the course of several years. We are not sure if Charlie will ever be able to smile again. One side of Ruby's beautiful smile is drooping and her left eye doesn't close at this point when she cries. Aside from operations to restore function to their faces, the kids will need to undergo further plastic surgeries and/or laser treatments to improve their appearance and help minimize their outward scarring.
2. Speech therapy and counseling - Charlie may need speech therapy to help him overcome the damage he suffered. Both kids will need intensive counseling as they are now understandably terrified of dogs. Charlie has night terrors and wakes up in the night shielding his face. When he woke up after surgery, the first thing he talked about was the dog. Up until now, Ruby has had zero fear of our family cat, Penny. Upon returning home, she asked Jeff if Penny was going to bite her. There are two large dogs living next door to us, and I already wonder how I will get my kids in and out of their home without fear.
3. Hospital stays - Ruby stayed three days in the hospital while Charlie slowly made his way from the pediatric intensive care unit to the pediatric intermediate care unit. On Saturday, June 24, he was moved to the regular floor.
4. Rabies shots/medications - The dog had not been immunized in close to four years, meaning the three of us need to undergo a painful series of rabies vaccinations. The kids received numerous medications in the hospital and will be sent home with several prescriptions.
5. Everyday living expenses - We are a working class family. Jeff works hard as a printing pressman on third shift. I left my job two years ago to be a stay-at-home mother until the kids are in school full-time. Jeff will be off work for an indefinite period of time and the loss of income would be tough enough even without a baby on the way.
How You Can Help
1. Make a donation - We are grateful for every amount we receive, no matter how small. We promise all of the funds raised will go directly to helping Ruby and Charlie heal.
2. Spread the word - Share this campaign on all your social media. Talk to your friends and family about it. Send out an email. Put up a flyer at your break room at work. If you're a churchgoer, talk to your priest or pastor.
Should you have any questions about making a donation, feel free to contact my sister Kerry Shuffelbottom or me. Thank you in advance for supporting our family through this horrific ordeal.
Margot Shuffelbottom Warfel (Charlie and Ruby's mother)
- Brenda Knoll Budd
- Valerie Roth
Organizer and beneficiary
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