Writtin by Renee Rosati: (Chase’s mother)
Pit bulls and fighting breed dogs are an increasing public safety issue for families and communities everywhere. Not many people dare to speak out and consequently many victims live in silence. Victims of dog attacks get harassed, threatened, guilted into hiding and their family’s safety becomes threatened. If you, the reader, would please just take a few more days of your time and hear from the victims and survivors and see the truth of why we as advocates try to spread public awareness. This is so important! If you open your heart you will see how much you really mean to a lot of people and how just you’re simple support in any way will softened the hearts of so many suffering from these animal attacks. You will give so many of us some peace of mind and hope that we just may have our voices heard and save more lives. This may spare another child the horrific pain or a violent savage death.
This is Chase’s story with photos after 8.5 hours of surgery. We still don’t know how he survived this horrific mauling. This is from my personal journal entries a few days after the attack:
This day January 11, 2011 started out as a normal work morning. Me, Chase and his dad got up and drove Chase to his grandmother’s house in Drexel Hill. When we arrived, our son was his usual self, smiling and happy. We kissed him goodbye and left him with his grandmother to babysit. As we were pulling out of the driveway they were standing at the door and Chase was waving good-bye. I did not realize that was going to be the last time I would see my son’s beautiful face with both eyes wide opened smiling back at me.
At 11:30am that day, I got a disturbing visit from Chase’s grandfather who works at HUP with me, he entered my office out of breath and his face told it all. Without words, I knew it was my son. I immediately stood and told him NO! This isn’t happening! He wouldn’t tell me what was happening or how bad it was. All he said was “get your things and come on.” I was about to face ANY mother’s worst fear. Walking through the halls and out the door over to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, (CHOP) was like walking to my own funeral, I thought, OK, it may not be that bad then as I entered CHOP ER I saw the look on the security officers and the staff and JUST lost it. I knew right then and there that IT was bad. They put me in a room and told me my son needed immediate surgery and had been seriously injured by the vicious pit bull attack. They brought me and Dominic into the room where Chase was and my legs went weak. My personal nightmare had begun.
I saw my son flailing his arms and legs while screaming and shaking his head back and forth. He was covered in his own blood. I felt as if someone was stabbing me from behind. I couldn’t understand not being able to grab my son and tell him mommy was there and he would be OK. They took us out of the room for what felt like a lifetime of surgery. At 12pm January 11th Chase went into to the operating room (OR) and we were brought to the OR waiting area. We were trying to comprehend what was happening but all we could do is sit there and wait. Doctors were coming in and out of the room for consents to repair the many extensive injuries. My world was being turned upside down minute by minute.
First, plastic surgery came to explain the lacerations that were made on the left side of his cheek with numerous puncture holes. The worst injury was the deep laceration that started from one side under his neck to the other coming up ripping the chin off. This exposed the nerve inside Chase’s mouth. Then, in came the eye surgeon with the news that Chase’s left orbital socket had been crushed and the tooth of the dog went through his skull and into the back of the eye. Consequently, they needed to place metal plates in his face. They also had to repair the tear duct system, which was severely lacerated and a plastic stint would need to be inserted. I just kept telling each doctor “PLEASE take care of my baby, please help him”. Just when I thought I heard it all, the ENT surgeon came in with the most horrifying news! They found that Chase’s tongue was torn almost completely off from the back only leaving a millimeter of his tongue left. Also, about 3 inches of the front of the tongue was severely severed. They weren’t sure if they could get the blood supply back to the tongue. The image I got at in my mind at that moment was OMG! The animal had attacked my son viciously and mauled him horribly.
I felt sick not knowing how scared and how much pain my son was feeling. I wasn’t there to console or protect him. I was left sitting with the image of my baby never being able to talk or eat again with no tongue! Then a nurse came in to tell us he needed to go to x-ray for a computerized tomography or CT to be done because they thought his jaw was broken. They asked if we wanted to see him quickly before they took him. As I walked into the hallway the shock set in and I saw Chase, my baby. He didn’t even look like my son. His head was three times the normal size. As I got closer, all I could see was my son’s eyelid resting on his cheek mangled. They said “go ahead and kiss him.” I leaned over to kiss his forehead and told him “Mommy is here, Hold on and fight. I love you.” As they wheeled him away all I could think about was how helpless I felt. I couldn’t control my thoughts. I thought, Oh God, he is probably wondering where his Mommy and Daddy were while he was being mauled. He must have been so scared and in so much pain. After the scan, the doctor came back in to inform us of more horrifying news. Our son’s bowels where inflamed and had shut down from all the trauma his little body had been through and was still being put through. From the amount of blood loss, his blood pressure was going up and down he needed 2 blood transfusions. How could this be happening? I just kept asking myself why?? Why him?? He is just a baby.
At 8:30pm, 8.5 hours later the surgeries were finished. They took us up to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit PICU, 7 South and told us we would have to wait about 45 minutes to see him. I was so anxious to see my baby after 8 hours and at the same time I was nervous to go into the room and see him. I tried my best to remain calm during this time. Walking into his room I saw my baby boy lying in his hospital bed with tubes coming out of everywhere and his body so swollen. All I could do was stand there helpless and watch my baby fight for his life.
To fast forward, little Chase was improving medically. For me and my family, it was just the beginning of a long journey to recovery. My son was unable to drink a bottle unable to take a binky which had been his comfort in the past. During the day, all we could do is walk him around and hold him, he didn’t want to be put down. At night I would have to hold and rock him while listening to him scream for hours until he passed out from exhaustion. Then, we would sit up with him after only an hour of sleep after he woke up crying. Next he began to cry in his sleep and whine; the nurses said he could be subconsciously remembering the attack. This just broke my heart even more. Our minds and spirit couldn’t take any more. Night after night this repeated and were could do nothing to help him. Knowing our baby had a long hard road ahead of him still was breaking us apart.
The time came when Chase was discharged. Two days of being home and going through more of this nightmare nearly impossible. We were doing our best to keep up with the schedule medications and the timing of the feeds on the tube and trying to settle down a 9 month old in severe pain. I kept praying for the strength to just keep going. My son was in agony and I knew it. But what was wrong I just couldn’t tell. The worst part is that my son began to reject me and push me away. He became very upset if I would hold him and even if I sat next to him. Heartbroken, I was dying inside. I thought he was associating me with his pain of holding him down to give him the medication and clean his injured eye. It was so hard to think that my son was now afraid of me. I was the one that put him to sleep every night since birth, the one that he hugged and kissed. I couldn’t wrap my mind around what still felt like a dream.
Later that night after hours of crying and rocking and walking around, I decided to try to clean out Chase’s nose. He had what looked like dried blood stuck in his left nostril continuously since the accident. I kept telling nurses and doctors about it because it seemed to make him have trouble breathing. They told me to use saline drops which I did but nothing happened. I laid him down on the changing table and tried to get it out! He screamed and I stopped and I thought, ok I have to be gentle and easy. The whole left side of his face had broken bones and fractures so I tried again. This time Chase cried so hard he held his breath. I sat him up and calmed him down. He started to cough and sneezed really hard!
Out came this rock hard dried up blood clot or so it seemed. Dom was standing there and grabbed it before it went into his mouth. He said “wow, this is rock hard” and he turned to throw it away. Then I heard him say, with his voice cracking and about to cry was “Oh my God, oh my God” and I jumped up and said” what is the matter?” He turned to me and said “it is a TOOTH, a tooth Renee. I think it is the dog’s tooth!” Instantly I was sick to my stomach. MY son had a tooth lodged in his nose for 17 days and that was what was causing the uncontrollable crying. Night after night, my poor baby was suffering agonizing pain. I had been sitting there holding his head to my chest rocking him while he screamed not knowing this sharp edge tooth was jammed in his nose. How in the world did this dog’s tooth get there I wondered? I now understand.
That night my son actually smiled and sat on the floor. He played for 2 hours without crying for the first time in 17 long days. My heart was happy that he was finally active and without that bad pain. On the other hand, I was sick with disgust of what had happened. I could go on and on because our happiness was very short lived and the constant crying and wondering what was wrong started again. But, we wanted to do whatever it took to help our dear child. Still, we wondered when the struggle would ever end.
Chase is now 4 and the aftermath of the mauling is ongoing. The center of our lives is this attack and everything that has come about has been a result of this attack. I try to share my experience and help others to be aware of the aftermath of living as a survivor. To me, life will never be the same. My son struggles with so many challenges on a daily basis. I, myself, have issues from this tragedy. My whole family has experienced heartache, sadness, loss and the feeling of family being torn apart. We have endured financial problems and my life has been turned upside down for 4 years. Sometimes I think like there is no end in sight. Even though my son’s injuries have healed and closed, the wounds on the inside never will. It seems that trying to move on from that day will be nearly impossible.
Every step my son will take for years to come will lead us right back to that day. Chase is blind in his left eye, has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), behavioral problems, social emotional problems, speech problems and feeding problems He is developmentally delayed, has Bell’s palsy on his left side, suffers seizures and on medications from scar tissue on his brain from being shaken by the dog. These are the things people fail to see after someone has been attacked and their wounds close. They don’t realize how much it changes a person’s life. As the parent of a surviving victim, could you imagine hearing and seeing people value a dog’s life more than a human life?
A Message from Renee Rosati
The dog was raised from six-weeks old, very well cared for by a 56 year-old woman, no signs of aggression and had a good relationship with the dog. I lived with the dog for a year before Chase was born with my daughter and it would sleep and cuddle with me. He was a neutered male. The dog came out of nowhere and grabbed my son who didn’t walk or crawl yet. Chase was on the floor with his 22 year-old uncle. He had to fight it off and raise my son above his head while kicking the dog and backing out of the house where he then called 911. The dog continued to try to get Chase. He wasn’t finished attacking. The pit bull was 6-year-old when it suddenly snapped and tried to kill my son.
As I see it, this is a big problem in the world we now live in. We need help to save people’s lives! Pets suffer similar tragedies and deaths. Thank you for taking your time to listen. I hope people understand and see exactly how it feels to victims during that moment. Know this; it is not over after the wounds heal. A pit bull mauling changes your life forever.
American Pit Bull Terrier
The American Pit Bull Terrier is, like all the ‘bully’ breeds, one of this group of descendants of the British ‘bull and terrier’ type fighting bulldogs. Once imported into the United States, it was bred up to be bigger again, and again used in baiting animals and in dogfighting. The American Kennel Club (founded 1884) was unwilling to register these fighting dogs, so in 1898 the United Kennel Club was founded specifically to register working pit-fighting dogs and to promote dogfighting. In order to be registered, a dog had to first win three pit fights7,8,9. The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) became a ‘breed’. As dogfighting declined in popularity in the 1930s and 1940s, Colby (the most famous and prolific breeder of these dogs) began to search for a new market and began promoting the APBT as family pets10,11. This despite the fact that his breeding lines included child killers12.
It is recommended that American Pit Bull Terrier owners have and carry a break stick17. A break stick is a device designed to open a Pit Bull type dog’s mouth while it is engaged in fighting. Pit Bull type breeds have a very distinctive fighting style and often will latch on their opponent and not let go. They usually will shake the other animal violently when they are latched on. This can cause horrific damage quickly. The break stick was designed by dog fighters to be inserted into the Pit Bull’s mouth and release his grip. The original purpose was to safely end a dog fight. The break stick often is the ONLY thing that will release the dog’s grip. People have been known to hit Pit Bulls with objects such as a bat or even shoot them and the dog still will not let go. Bully Breed owners should always have one handy in cause of an emergency. The break stick is not safe to use on other breeds of dogs and is only recommended for dogs in the Pit Bull family that were once used for dog fighting purposes.