A 6-year-old girl mauled by a pair of pit bulls on her Cincinnati street Wednesday remained in critical condition in a medically induced coma on Saturday with many surgeries and much therapy ahead of her, family said.
"She’s currently resting peacefully, but I hope she can survive these next weeks," family member Leslee McElrath said. "She liked to play with her little brother. She liked to smile. She was learning to read. She was a normal 6-year-old."
Cincinnati Police have said the dogs chased after Zainabou Drame, dragged her for a bit and then attacked her. Police arrived to the scene quickly, and squad car dashboard camera footage released Friday shows officers running toward Zainabou as the dogs hover above her.
The dogs scurried, and officers can be seen firing shots in their direction. Both dogs were killed by the gunfire.
Zainabou lost part of her jaw, tongue and eye, among other injuries, her aunt told the Cincinnati Enquirer.
"She is lying there -- her face is swollen almost beyond recognition -- I thank God she is still here," Gina Tyus told the newspaper.
She asked that dog owners be more cognizant of what their pets are up to.
"You don't know what can set them off, upset them, trigger something," Tyus said. "The kids were just out here playing. As far as we know, it was just the fact that they were running around that set the dogs off."
Police have not charged the dogs' owner, 24-year-old Zontae Irby, with any crimes related to the dogs' attack. But he was arrested and is being held on $78,000-bond on suspicion of drug, weapon and stolen property crimes.
One of the officers who responded to the attack told WLWT-TV that the scene was the worst thing he had seen during his nine years on the force.
"The image I will never get out of my head which was the child's head was in the mouth of the brown dog and he was thrashing his head back and forth," Officer Kyle Strunk said.
At least 19 people in the U.S. have died from dog attacks in 2014, according to tracking by a national bite victims' group. About half of the victims were children.