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Family In A Bind After Pit Bull Attack On 5-Year-Old

By Howard Nathan

THORNTON, Colo. (CBS4) - The family of a 5-year-old Thornton girl who survived a pit bull attack is facing a hefty bill after getting emergency medical treatment.

Jenika Bugayong
Jenika Bugayong (credit: CBS)

Jenika Bugayong's face wound up badly wounded after a neighbor's pit bull bit her on Memorial Day weekend during a camping trip.

"Basically it was like scene out of a zombie movie, it was horrid," said her mother Kristen Johnston.

Three weeks later, Bugayong's face appears to be healing on the outside but on the inside things are unsettled.

"Her emotional state, she has her good days and her bad days and she's a lot more aggressive now, lashing out more. She's not as happy, angry, and I think a lot of it is because she's holding it all in," said Johnston.

Jenika Bugayong
CBS4's Howard Nathan interviews Jenika Bugayong and her mother Kristen Johnston. (credit: CBS)

Bugayong's family was at a campground at Lake McConaughy in Keith County, Nebraska. She was going to pet her dog, Angel, when the pit bull from the campground next door suddenly clamped onto her face.

Bugayong had to get numerous stitches, but she has not cried about the incident, according to her mother.

The family had to fly Bugayong by helicopter to Children's Hospital in Aurora. Johnston said the nearest hospital in Ogallala did not have the expertise to help her daughter compared to Children's. However, the helicopter ride cost $80,000 and insurance would not cover it.

Jenika Bugayong
Jenika Bugayong (credit: CBS)

"That's a good chunk of change," Johnston said. "That's just one (bill) of many. We don't know what we're going to get."

"Are you now afraid of dogs?" CBS4's Howard Nathan asked Bugayong.

"No," she replied.

A dangerous dog complaint was filed against the owner of the dog after the incident. Ocho, the dog responsible for the injury, belongs to a Commerce City family. It is scheduled to be euthanized by authorities.

After the accident, a family friend set up a GoFundMe account for Bugayong to help the family pay for the medical bills.

Howard Nathan is a veteran newsman. Decades later, he still enjoys writing a clever sentence, asking the tough question and talking to people in Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Howard and read his bio.

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