LAKE ISABELLA CA - A FAMILY PIT BULL ATTACKED THEIR 4-YEAR-OLD GIRL LEAVING HER FACE...."BARELY HANGING ON"
A 4-year-old Lake Isabella girl is getting better at Valley Children's Hospital after being mauled by the family dog. Natalee Spears' surgeon called her injuries some of the worst she's seen in 14 years at the hospital.
She is healing faster than anyone imagined, and she could be going home soon.
On the morning of May 20, Natalee had just finished breakfast when Browser, the family PIT BULL, attacked.
Her stepmother, Tammy Hughes, was in the room.
"I pried his mouth open and was hitting him in the face, trying to get him off of her," Hughes said. "Got him off. He got loose again from me."
Hughes got her out of the room and away from the dog. She said Natlee's face was barely hanging on. Seconds later, she was shocked to see Natalee's resiliency.
"I was scared, holding her," Hughes said. "You don't know it's gonna get fixed, and then she started singing 'You Are My Sunshine' with me."
Natalee was rushed to a Bakersfield hospital, but doctors said she needed a higher level care, so she was airlifted to Valley Children's.
She underwent six hours of surgery to re-attach her face, repair nerve damage, reconstruct her nose and fix her jaw that was broken on both sides.
Fast forward 17 days and Natalee is making plans like any 4-year-old.
"I have an ice cream party," she said.
She's also well aware of her injuries.
"I got a hole, I gotta a hole in my neck," the little girl said.
While Natalee recuperates, Valley Children's is also reintroducing her to animals. The lesson is to teach Natalee that dogs are friendly but to be gentle.
Her surgeon, Dr. Angela Rodriguez, dropped by to check on Natalee.
"We have to see the response of the facial nerve, but thankfully in that area it branches really nicely and it can recover especially in a child as young as Natalee," the doctor said.
Natalee hopes to check out of the hospital Friday.
Rodriguez said Natalee may need more surgeries, but it depends on her recovery in the next six months.