Rawlings dog attack victim dubbed hero by hospital staff

RAWLINGS — Jacob Van Pelt may be the biggest superhero to ever visit West Virginia.

The Rawlings 4-year-old was named Hero of the Month at West Virginia University Children’s Hospital for all that he endured following a serious dog attack near his uncle’s Rawlings home in April.

“Every month all of our children’s hospital staff is able to nominate a child they feel truly was a hero and faced something traumatic, and Jacob received the most staff nominations we have had since we started the Hero of the Month program,” said Jacob’s child life specialist, Emily.

“Jacob went through a tremendous amount while he was here, more procedures than anyone should ever bear. Due to his story but also his charm, everyone in the hospital knew him quickly.”

The hospital is one of hundreds of facilities that participates in Kids Wish Network’s Hero of the Month program.

Jacob spent six weeks in the hospital and had to have 12 surgeries to repair the damage done by the dog, including a procedure where doctors surgically implanted veins into his leg.

“When we got there the first day they put cadaver veins into his legs. Those veins clotted and they had to do it again. After the first two or three major surgeries they had to go back in and get rid of dead tissues many more times,” said Jacob’s mom, Jennifer, in an interview with the Kids Wish Network.

Jennifer was told that Jacob had been picked as the Hero of the Month for June during one of Jacob’s last days in the hospital.

When they came back for a follow-up, he was given a gift card, T-shirt, a hero medal and a certificate to honor his bravery.

“We were aware of the nomination and on his first follow-up he was awarded with all the stuff. He kept saying, ‘I’m a superhero,’” Jennifer said.

According to Jennifer, Jacob is continuing to recover from the attack and is doing well. He does physical therapy three times a week and has blood work done once a week.

On April 22, Jacob was visiting his uncle’s house with his grandfather when he wandered out of their sight. He was attacked by a dog reported to be a Rottweiler that had just been brought to a foster home from an unidentified animal rescue.

“My brother-in-law said the dog got out and attacked him and another one of his (Jacob’s) uncles found him,” said Jennifer.

The boy was taken to Potomac Valley Hospital in Keyser, W.Va., by private transport and was flown to Morgantown, W.Va., from there.

Officials euthanized the dog, who was tested for rabies with a negative result.

Kids Wish Network is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories and improving the quality of life for children between the ages of 3 and 18. For more information, call 888-918-9004 or log on to www.kidswishnetwork.org.

Cumberland Times-News
Cumberland, West Virginia
Published: 06/28/10


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Kids Wish Network is a charitable organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children having experienced life-altering situations. Kids Wish Network assists children and their families through several key programs.