On Saturday, 6-year-old Lily Norton’s life was changed forever. The young girl from Chesterville, Maine, was hanging out at a friend’s house when things went south.
The family was pet-sitting a friend’s pit bull, but there didn’t seem to be any issue until the girls went to play a game and the mom went to use the bathroom.
“They were going to sit at the table and play cards,” Lily’s mother, Dorothy Norton, told WMTW-TV in Portland. “The little girl that Lily went up to play with went to go get the cards. Lily sat at the table, and the dog attacked her.”
The mother heard her daughter screaming, ran out of the bathroom and entered the kitchen to see the dog clamped down on Lily’s face.
Thankfully, the child put her shoulders up during the attack, which protected her neck, and the dog released her immediately when it saw the mother walk in.
Lily was rushed to a hospital in Farmington and then life-flighted to Boston Children’s Hospital.
She went through an 11-hour surgery in which she received more than 1,000 stitches to close the gashes that ran from her neck to under her eyes.
“She can’t talk at all right now, but she has been very responsive today,” Norton said. “She’s been looking at me, blinking, and telling me what she needs.
“I’m hoping. She already looks good.”
Family friend Jackson Pitcher started a GoFundMe to cover travel and other costs for the family, and by Thursday afternoon it had raised more than $15,000 toward a goal of $6,500.
WARNING: Some viewers might find the post-surgery photo below disturbing.
For now, Lily remains sedated to help her heal and reduce the chances of her scratching at her face. She’ll also be on a breathing tube until at least Saturday, at which point she’ll be undergoing another surgery.
While her mother remains hopeful for a positive outcome, doctors have cautioned the family that there will be noticeable differences.
“Her salivary glands aren’t working … and doctors said she won’t be able to smile again,” Pitcher said, according to the Sun Journal. “Muscles are too damaged.”
The family deliberated over whether to share a picture of Lily’s face post-attack but decided it was important for people to have visual evidence of how serious it was.
“Everybody hears about dog attacks, but they can’t really picture in their head what that looks like,” Pitcher said. “So, we put it up.”