ST. GEORGE – On July 1, 2011, 10-year-old Ben Snyder and his family never expected that an afternoon of play would end in an emergency trip to the Dixie Regional Medical Center.
Walking to the home of his friend, 11-year-old Tyler Butterfield, Ben was just on the outside of Butterfield’s fenced yard when he was suddenly attacked by a pack of three dogs roaming the neighborhood. It didn’t take long for Tyler to hear his friend’s cries for help.
Tyler alerted his parents to Ben’s harrowing plight, which resulted in Howie Butterfield, Tyler’s father, coming to the aid of his friend.
“He attacked the dogs,” Tyler said of his father. The dogs were ultimately chased off thanks to Butterfield’s efforts.
Family and emergency services were contacted, and Ben was rushed to Dixie Regional Medical Center with severe wounds on both arms and legs. Incredibly, the dogs did not maim his face or neck.
After five hours in emergency surgery, Ben’s situation stabilized. He has undergone at least one additional surgery since, with another two involving plastic surgery and skin grafting in the coming months.
Michelle Snyder has had nothing but praise for the medical staff that helped her son.
“They’ve been great,” she said.
The damage done to Ben’s arms and legs is significant, Snyder said. Medical staff told her that her son had over 100 puncture wounds on his body from the dog bites. The right arm sustained injuries that exposed nerves and muscle, which will require skin grafts. The left arm had serious damage done to the elbow.
Ben’s legs didn’t fare much better. Snyder said repeated biting from the dogs made deep puncture wounds on his left leg and had shred her son’s right leg. Preliminary skin grafts have been placed on the right leg, which will be reinforced in upcoming surgeries.
Despite the trauma experienced and the damage done, Snyder reported that Ben is pulling through nicely.
“He’s doing really well,” she said. Currently Ben is attending physical therapy three days a week. Snyder said that there are high hopes that her son will make a full recovery.
Nearly two weeks after the attack, Ben is up and walking, albeit with the temporary assistance of a cane.
As for Tyler and Howie Butterfield, Ben considers them his heroes. At a family dinner held in honor of the two, Ben presented father and son with a pair of Superman t-shirts and trophies filled with Hersey’s Kisses.
When asked what the boys had learned from the whole ordeal, Tyler summed it up best when he said: “Be careful with stray dogs.”
Butterfield also stressed the fact that his son did the right thing by going to his parents for help, and hopes that other children will learn from Tyler’s example.
Concerning the three dogs involved in the incident, the reason for the attack on Ben is unknown. However, the animals were picked up by animal control and taken to the St. George Animal Shelter. Dave Vane, the city’s animal control officer and manager of the shelter, confirmed that the dogs were euthanized on July 12.
As for any charges levied against the owners of the dogs, Vane was unable to comment as the investigation into the incident is ongoing.
An account in Ben’s name has been set up at Southwest Federal Credit Union for anyone who would like to make a donation towards medical costs.
Copyright St. George News 2011