Girl’s arm torn off by wolfdog after she reached into cage at animal sanctuary

A toddler’s arm was torn off by a wolfdog after she tried to grab its shiny collar.

Sophia Scraver, two, stuck her arm into the animal’s cage at her grandparents’ animal sanctuary in West Bloomfield, Michigan, the US.

Her severed limb was left lying on the ground during the horrifying incident in July.

Sophia’s grandmother Brenda Pearson, who runs the Howling Timbers sanctuary, wrote on Facebook: “We believe she was interested in the shiny collar being worn by one of the wolf dogs…

“We believe she grabbed his collar and he pulled to get away.

“She then got her arm stuck in the fence at the elbow and lost her arm. After she was rushed to the hospital, I went back to the pen and picked up her little arm.

“I can still see it today. Her little hand was still closed as if she was still grasping the collar.”

Pearson claims she was cleared of criminal wrongdoing by child protection services.

She also wrote: “Initially, I reported it as a bite but the more I thought about it, it didn't make sense.

“If the animal bit an arm that was inside the pen, there would be bite wounds on the hand and lower part of the arm.

“If the animal bit the arm from the side, there would be a part of her arm missing.”

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The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) received a tip about the attack on Pearson’s granddaughter in July.

It removed six foxes, four turtles, three coyotes and two fawns from the facility on October 9.

However, 47 wolfdogs remain at the sanctuary.

State officials claimed they are illegal in Michigan without proper permits, The Detroit News reports.

The DNR is currently investigating the facility, and conservation officer Anna Cullen said: “It’s not fair to this child who lost an arm.

“We are doing everything we can to ensure the safety of anyone who may encounter any animal at Howling Timbers, including the health and safety of all the animals at the facility.”

A GoFundme page has been launched to support Sophia’s medical expenses, and has so far raised nearly $8,000 (£6,100).

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Ms Pearson claims the wolfdogs are licensed through the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and gave US station Fox 17 the permit from 2010.

She also posted on Facebook: “I would like to clarify as others have expressed concern for the dog. The dog (wolfdog) is not going to be euthanised.

“During the initial investigation it was considered. After concluding this was not due to aggression or attack, he will live in sanctuary whether that be here or elsewhere.”

Pearson said the facility had an inspection in June with the DNR and obtained a wildlife license.

She wrote: “Officer Anna Cullen said she liked everything she seen inside our rehab building.

“However, she wanted us to complete 80% of an outdoor deer pen and raccoon pen before licensing us. We spent $3,000 (£2,310) and completed 100% of both pens.”

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Pearson said officers came back in July and approved the license.

On October 9, she said DNR officers returned for a “surprise inspection”.

Pearson wrote: “They wanted to see all the wolf dogs even though they don't have jurisdiction over them.

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“She then told me there was a miscommunication between her and Casey, wildlife permit specialist.

“She said the officers aren't the ones who can give permits and Casey was way far behind on paperwork.

“I was told not to take in any more wildlife but to keep what I had until I hear back from them. I had 3 coyotes, 2 raccoons and 2 deer. I was told to release deer by October 1."

The Daily Star Online has approached the sanctuary, DNR, and the Department of Agriculture for comment.

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