Vicious pit bull attacks on two four-year-olds in separate incidents just days apart in B.C. have prompted the families of the children to call for the province to ban the breed.
Four-year-old Emma-Leigh Cranford of White Rock had been playing with the pit bull just days before Thursday's attack. But her parents, Elizabeth and Mike Cranford, said the dog pinned her against a fence and bit her face savagely at a barbecue last week.
"All I heard was a growl and she was pinned between the bench and the fence, and he was just on top of her and it happened so quick," Elizabeth Cranford told CBC News.
"When I had her in my arms, I didn't know if she was dying."
The girl was taken to hospital and underwent two hours of surgery to repair a large facial wound. She's recovering at home, but has been left with a bad scar.
In the other incident, the parents of a Kelowna boy attacked by a pit bull over the weekend also are calling for action to protect children from dangerous dogs.
Hayden Bush was set upon by a friend’s dog when he reached to pet the animal.
"She chomped his nose and deeply into the muscles of his cheek, and took a secondary bite into his cheek as well," said Jayme Bush, Hayden’s mother.
It took 32 stitches to close the boy's wounds.
Bush said families need to know how dangerous some dogs can be.
"And it's not just the pit bull breeds. It's other vicious dogs," said Bush.
Blame falls on dog owners
The Cranfords say the two-year-old pit bull was put down immediately after the attack, but they don't blame the owner, who they described as a good woman.
For years there have been calls for bans on pit bulls, but defenders of the animal say the problem is not the breed itself — it's the owners.
Elizabeth Cranford said that until her daughter was attacked, she believed that too.
"My brother's friend who owned the dog, she's a good person, not evil, a stable person," she said.
The Cranfords now believe the breed is the problem, and are calling on the B.C government to ban pit bulls, as Ontario and Winnipeg have.
"When it happened to my daughter, it really hit home," said Mike Cranford.
The Cranfords said it's a miracle Emma-Leigh wasn't more traumatized, but they ensure she is not in the room when they talk about what happened, and don't want other children to suffer the same fate, or worse.
"We would like to see pit bulls banned and I'm very serious. That is what I would like to see, yup, before it happens ... and somebody else is not so fortunate," said Elizabeth.
A recent report in Toronto showed the number of dog bites fell since a pit bull ban was put in place seven years ago, but the Ontario ban is under attack by opponents.