10:39 AM EDT, September 11, 2012
We think of raccoons as cute, cuddly and harmless creatures, like those critters caught on tape stealing a pizza. But raccoons are wild animals and sometimes that's a lesson learned the hard way.
Ten-year-old Charlotte Ponce has just undergone reconstructive surgery to repair her nose she lost in a raccoon attack.
"It bit the ear, and then the nose," she told INSIDE EDITION.
Ponce was just three months old when a pet raccoon escaped from his cage and mauled her in her crib. The raccoon tore off her ear, her upper lip and her nose. She has undergone seven reconstructive surgeries, with more to come.
In another case of a raccoon attack, nursing student Michaela Lee was attacked by raccoons while walking her dog outside Tacoma, Washington. She tried to run, but fell and suffered 16 punctures and bite wounds, and more than 100 lacerations.
Lee told INSIDE EDITION, "All I remember was the sound of my own screams, ‘Help me! Help me!’ I thought, ‘I have to stand up! I don't want them to get my face or my eyes!’”
Her dog had chased two young raccoons up a tree and three adult raccoons retaliated by going after Lee.
She said, "All of a sudden they were on my legs, biting and scratching me.”
Then, the dog turned into a hero.
"She was snapping, growling, and barking, and biting at them. I actually pulled a raccoon on my arm and threw it," said Lee.
She was rushed to the hospital, where some of her gaping wounds had to be stapled closed, and as a precaution she has to be treated for rabies.
But for little Charlotte Ponce, the road to recovery will be far longer—ten years of healing—to undo the damage of a raccoon attack that lasted just a few seconds.
For more information about Charlotte Ponce and how to help, please click here.