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Too Early to Tell if Dog Attack Jeopardized Boy’s Facial Muscles, Doctor Says

SACRAMENTO–

There’s been some sitting and watching TV, but mostly Hunter Kilbourn of Martinez is doing a lot of resting peacefully one day after more surgery to repair what two pit bulls ripped away.

So far, UC Davis plastic surgeon David Sahar has done all the reconstructive work needed to put Hunter’s life and look back together.

Hunter’s mom describes some of what went wrong when two pet pit bulls attacked her child at a friend’s house in Antioch.

“From here to here across his face was torn off and half of his ear was torn off.  And from here to here was wide open where I could see down into his head,” said Melody Ralls of Martinez as she gestured toward the left and right sides of her face.

“My heart just dropped … I said oh my God, no parent should have to see their child like that,” she said.

Having faced all that the dogs took from Hunter in the operating room, Doctor Sahar is speaking out for the first time.

Though Hunter looks like he’s wearing a helmet, it’s really a compression dressing hugging newly grafted skin from his groin.

“By putting some pressure on it … prevents formation of fluid under the skin graft which could increase risk of failure,” said Sahar.

It’s too early to tell, but the attack could have jeopardized the facial muscles and nerves that make the 10-year-old’s sunny smile.

But there’s some good news, even if there is damage.

“There is some regenerative capacity to peripheral nerves, as opposed to the central nervous system which doesn’t have that capacity,” said Sahar.

A few frightening minutes left him torn and frightened, and it make take years to erase it all, but UC Davis is standing behind Hunter.

“He’s a wonderful little kid and hopefully we’ll get him back to where he needs to be as soon as possible,” said Sahar.

Doctor Sahar says Hunter should be well enough to leave this hospital in about five days.

With this attack, all the sides of the pit bull debate are engaged.

Doctor Sahar has very definite opinions about the breed, saying extreme caution should be taken when the dogs are near children.

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