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Wisconsin mother, 35, dies eight days after saving her four-year-old son from family pitbull

Wisconsin mother-of-two, 35, dies eight days after saving her four-year-old son from family pitbull who ‘ripped her arms off’ in attack

  • Heather Pingel, 35, from Bowler, Wisconsin, suffered kidney failure, lung damage and both of her arms had to be amputated after she was attacked
  • She was rushed to Aspirus Wausau Hospital after the pitbull attacked her on December 8, and died eight days later on December 16
  • Her son, Damian, received 70 stitches to his leg but is back home recovering
  • The family dog had shown signs of aggression before, the Sheriff’s Office said
  • Heather’s sister said the mom feared the dog would be killed if taken to a shelter 


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A hero Wisconsin mother-of-two died eight days after suffering severe injuries when she saved her four-year-old son from being brutally attacked by the family’s pitbull. 

Heather Pingel, 35, from Bowler, suffered kidney failure, lung damage and both of her arms had to be amputated after the pitbull viciously attacked her and her son, Damian, on December 8.

She was rushed to Aspirus Wausau Hospital, where she died of her injuries on December 16. Damian received 70 stitches to his leg and is back home recovering.

‘I just want people to know she died a hero,’ Shannon Pingel, Heather’s sister, said. ‘I hate that this happened, but I’m thankful she saved my nephew … she is the best mom. She did everything for her babies.’

Heather Pingel, 35, from Bowler, Wisconsin, suffered kidney failure, lung damage and both of her arms had to be amputated after the family dog viciously attacked her and her son, Damian, on December 8

She was rushed to Aspirus Wausau Hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries on December 16

She was rushed to Aspirus Wausau Hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries on December 16

‘If you saw Heather you saw the kids too, especially Damion. From the day he was born he was attached to mom’s hip. Such a mommy’s boy. She will always be our hero and will forever be missed,’ Shannon added.

According to the Shawano County Sheriff Office, Heather’s boyfriend, Shane Bernarde, came home in the afternoon of December 8 to the violent scene, The Wasau Daily Herald reported. 

After realizing the family dog was attacking Heather in the bathroom, Shane grabbed the dog, pulled it outside, and shot the animal dead. He was also bitten in the process.

Damian needed 70 stitches to his leg but has since been discharged and is recovering at home. It is unclear if Heather’s and Shane’s daughter, Carmen, was in the house at the moment of the attack.

Meanwhile, Heather’s injuries were extensive. The stay-at-home mother lost both arms as a result of the attack and suffered infections to her lungs and kidneys that eventually led to her death. 

Heather's sister, Shannon, has since created a GoFundMe page to raise funeral costs, revealing that Shane had lost his job just a day before the attack. More than $28,000 out of the $50,000 goal has been raised

Heather’s sister, Shannon, has since created a GoFundMe page to raise funeral costs, revealing that Shane had lost his job just a day before the attack. More than $28,000 out of the $50,000 goal has been raised

The family dog had shown signs of aggression before, the Sheriff’s Office said.

But Shannon said a prior incident had happened more than six years ago and the attack was not directed towards a child. She added her sister feared the dog would be killed if they’d taken it to a shelter.

‘She was worried he would get killed if taken to a shelter. He wasn’t a scary, aggressive animal. We all were around him, which is why this is all so unbelievable,’ Shannon said.

Family members believe the attack was triggered after Damion fell down the stairs and started crying, as the dog was known to be skittish to loud noises.

Shannon has since created a GoFundMe page to raise funeral costs, revealing that Shane had lost his job just a day before the attack. 

‘She is nothing but a hero. We need help with medical bills, funeral costs, and help raising her [two] beautiful babies. She was way too young to leave and this is all so sudden and shocking. Any and all help is greatly appreciated,’ the description of the fundraiser read.

A funeral service will be held on Thursday, December 23.

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