Veteran cops who responded to the scene inside a Poplar Street home on Thursday, where an infant’s face was mauled by pet ferrets, say they have lost sleep and shed tears in the aftermath of the incident.
“I’ll be 45 years in June in Darby (with the police department), and this is the worst I’ve ever seen,” borough Police Chief Robert Smythe said. “I thought I’ve seen everything. This child, the center of (her) face is missing. Her nose was gone, (and so was) part of her cheek and part of her lip. I don’t know how much of that got replaced.”
Smythe said physicians at Children’s Hopsital of Philadelphia are attempting to reconstruct the child’s face and have inserted two stents into her nose.
“She had emergency surgery,” Smythe said. “The last I heard she was in stable (condition), but she was in intensive care.”
He said the family, with four other young children in the home, has serious issues.
“The parents, I believe, have problems,” he said. “… They are challenged. They can’t take care of these kids.”
When police arrived at the home in the 300 block of Poplar Street at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, they were told the baby had been in a car seat on the floor in the dining room, Smythe said.
“There’s a cage there, a cloth cage with three ferrets in it,” he said. “The ferrets got out of the cage. Dad is upstairs sleeping. Mom is upstairs. Mom hears the baby screaming.”
Smythe said he didn’t know how long it took for the parents to come downstairs.
“The ferrets ran when the mom came down,” he said.
The police chief further described the condition of the infant.
“The baby’s nose was gone, and a lot of the flesh from under the nose was gone and the cheek (too),” Smythe said. “It had little holes all over the head from where the ferrets were on her.”
The baby’s siblings are staying with family members while Children and Youth Services and Department of Welfare officials investigate. Criminal charges are pending, Smythe said.
“Just imagine that one-month-old baby, that can’t help herself, (and) two or three animals are eating it alive,” Smythe said. “Imagine the pain.”