A boy who was disfigured by two rottweilers made a miracle recovery – and won’t “let anything hold him back”.
Five-year-old Ryder Wells was attacked by the two 100lb (7st) beasts when he was just 21 months old in the town of Granite Falls, North Carolina, the US.
He spent 14 hours in surgery after he was airlifted to hospital.
Ryder lost the whole of his right cheek, the bottom of his eyelid and 75% of his lip.
His teeth were also crushed and he suffered a broken arm and a puncture in his right lung.
His distraught mum Brittany, 31, said: “In the beginning it was horrible because even adults would stare.
“For the first year, he had no face on one side because he had two unsuccessful skin grafts.
“When we go to the park, there’s a child who points and screams ‘monster’ at him before running away.
“Out shopping the other day someone shouted ‘ew’ at him.
“It’s hard and it breaks my heart as a parent that after everything he’s been through, people aren’t always nice over something he can’t help.
“But he is such a fighter, he doesn’t let anything hold him back.”
Medics initially warned Brittany to prepare for the worst.
However, he defied the odds by learning to eat and drink, before attending pre-school and kindergarten.
Describing the attack, the teaching assistant added: “It happened so quickly.
“We were visiting friends…we were eating breakfast and Ryder was back and forth to his toys and back for bacon then he disappeared.
“I looked out of the window and he was face down in the garden.
“He had pyjamas on and they’d been completely ripped off so he just had a sleeve on.
“When we picked him up and rolled him, his face was just gone.
“He’d been around the dogs before and they’d been fine so I don’t know what happened.”
Despite such extensive injuries, little Ryder shocked everyone with his tenacity.
Brittany said: “The doctors said they would do what they could but we weren’t expecting him to make it.
“They said it’s a miracle that he’s still here because he was so small and the injuries were so severe.
“He had to have a tracheostomy because of the punctured lung and they thought that the dogs had bitten so far into his skull that he would be paralysed.”
Ryder is expected to have even more surgeries until he fully matures, including nose reconstruction and dental work to replace his crushed teeth.
Brittany is now speaking out to raise awareness about the effects bullying can have on someone with a facial disfigurement, with Ryder is due to start first grade in September.
She said: “He knows that people are talking about him but he doesn’t say much.
“He wears glasses and a cap and sometimes he’ll hang his head to hide his face.
“I try to deal with it in a better manner so it doesn’t affect him so much.
“But I just tell him every day that he’s beautiful, different is beautiful and it’s ok to be different.
“I just reassure him as much as I can but I’m absolutely terrified about when he goes to school.
“There are always going to be a couple of kids who aren’t kind.
“When he started kindergarten, the kids learned about Ryder before they met him so they wouldn’t be as shocked.
“You always want your kid to be accepted and to fit in.
“Just because he’s different, it doesn’t make him less of a person.”
The two dogs were taken away by animal control and put down the same day.
Brittany continued: “He’ll never look the same and we face a lot of obstacles.
“The doctors said he would never be able to eat normally, he only has eight teeth now but he eats everything.
“He refused a puree diet and the special cup they gave him and learned to drink on his own. He’s really adapted.
“He has a great group of friends and people in the town know him now so that boosts his confidence.
“He’s been amazing how he’s adapted after what he’s been through.”
The family are now fundraising for Ryder’s plastic surgery.