Wisconsin mother dies after saving son from dog attack

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BOWLER, Wisconsin (AP) – Relatives of a woman in northeast Wisconsin say she died from the injuries she sustained while rescuing her 4-year-old son from an attack by the family’s dog.

Heather Pingel was admitted to Aspirus Wausau Hospital after the December 8 attack on the family home in Bowler. Her sister Shannon Pingel says Heather suffered serious injuries and died on Thursday.

Her son, Damion Bernarde, received around 70 stitches in his leg after his attack but is home from the hospital.

“She is the bravest and strongest mother I know to do this for her child; She risked her life to save him, ”said Shannon Pingel. “She is a heroine.”

A report from a Shawano County sheriff says that when Damion’s father Shane Bernarde returned home that afternoon, he found the family’s pit bull attacking Heather in the bathroom, Wausau told Daily Herald Media.

After locating their son in the living room, Bernarde grabbed the dog, pulled him outside and fatally shot him. The father was bitten too.

Shannon Pingel says her sister suffered kidney failure and both of her arms were amputated. She couldn’t say what might have caused the attack. However, family members suspect the animal was likely attacked after Damion fell down a flight of stairs and started crying because the dog was nervous at loud noises.

They believe Heather found the dog that attacked her son and dragged him into the bathroom.

The sheriff’s report said it was not the first time the dog showed signs of aggression. Shannon said her sister had a thing for animals and couldn’t let the dog go.

“My sister has the biggest heart for animals and just couldn’t get rid of it … her heart was too big and they thought they could fix it,” Shannon said.