A one-month old baby girl from Darby, Pennsylvania is in Intensive Care after her parents’ three pet ferrets escaped their cage on Thursday and ate her top lip, nose, and part of her cheek while she was strapped in a car seat and her mother left her alone to go upstairs.
The baby was rushed to surgery at a Philadelphia hospital and is in critical but stable condition, although it is unknown what the long-term consequences are, or how many reconstructive surgeries she will need.
The baby was home with her mother, father, and four older siblings when the incident happened. The father was sleeping, and the mother went to a separate part of the home. She heard the infant screaming and came back to find the ferrets attacking her daughter, with most of her face already gone, according to Darby Borrough Police.
The other four children, aged one to five, were taken into protective custody and placed with relatives amid concerns that their parents are not intellectually capable of caring for them.
Darby Borough Police Chief Robert Smythe said he had serious concerns about the living conditions of the children once he arrived on the scene.
“The parents, I believe, are challenged. They are not capable of taking care of those children. Just imagine that one month old baby, unable to help herself, and two or three animals eating her alive. Imagine her pain.”
Several child service agencies were already working with the parents prior to the Ferret attack, but police said the home was in disrepair and the family was living in squalor, with there being much more ferret and cat food in the house than food available for the children. The home is infested with fleas or mites, according to police. There were several other animals in the house, including six cats, two dogs, and two turtles, and the only human food was peanut butter, cranberry sauce, and juice.
The pet ferrets were only in a cloth cage, which was not adequate to secure them, and they may have been free some time before they attacked the baby girl.
“This is the most horrific thing I’ve seen happen to a child in 45 years in this town,” Police Chief Smythe said Friday.
“There’s a one-month-old laying there and anywhere from one to three animals are eating it while the child is still alive and screaming. Now, how long does it take you to get downstairs to get to your kid? You think that much flesh would be gone by the time you get down there?”
Officers that responded to the call were so disturbed by the scene they were unable to sleep last night, the chief said.
The ferrets were tested for rabies and then destroyed, according to police reports.
[photo by nbc Philadelphia]