A Philadelphia mother was in the bathroom with her son on Wednesday night when she heard a scream from her infant daughter’s bedroom, she says.
“We heard a sound upstairs, and we see a raccoon run down the steps,” Ashley Rodgers, mother of 4-month-old Journi Black, told CBS Philadelphia. “When I finally got to her, she was laying on the floor — so it had dragged her off the bed, across the room, and she was bleeding and crying and her whole face was red.”
Journi’s pajamas and face were covered in blood after the attack, the family told WTXF. The baby was quickly taken to the hospital, where she needed 65 stitches and surgery.
Journi also had to receive a rabies shot, the TV station reports. The child is lucky that her eyes were unaffected by the attack, doctors said, but it could still be a year before the baby fully recovers.
Less is known about the raccoon.
“What was he going to do?” the child's uncle, Kenny McDuffy, asked WPVI. “Eat her? Kill her?"
Philadelphia animal control workers have searched the area and put out a trap to catch the raccoon so a similar incident doesn’t happen again, WTXF reports. Neighbors said raccoons are a big problem in the North Philadelphia neighborhood, where unused lots and empty buildings create space for the pests.
“It’s just ridiculous,” Samuel Black, Journi’s father, told CBS. “My daughter could have lost her life.”
The owner of the home where the attack took place does not have a rental license, according to city officials. That means renting rooms there is illegal, WTXF reports. Rodgers said she started living in the home with her 6-year-old son and her 4-month old child just days before the attack.
“It needs to be shut down,” Rodgers told CBS. “Everybody needs to leave out of there.”
Rodgers said that she had reported the raccoon to her landlord earlier, CBS reports, and had received assurances the animal had been chased away.
Animal control workers told WPVI that they aren’t sure how the raccoon sneaked into the home.
“It is his responsibility,” a neighbor, Barbara Black, told CBS. “There’s no reason an animal should have gotten into the house with minors.”
It’s not the first time a child has fallen victim to a raccoon, either.
In 2002, a 3-month-old child was mauled by a raccoon — this one, a pet — when she was left alone by her parents in Michigan, ABC reports.
But the injuries Charlotte Ponce sustained in the attack were much more serious than those left by the Philadelphia raccoon this week.
“The raccoon pretty much ate the right side of her face, all the way back to the ear,” Sharon Ponce, the great-aunt who adopted Charlotte after the attack, told CBS. “Her right side is totally scarred and she’s had three surgeries to remove some of it almost two years ago.”