Kirstie Jane Bennard: Tennessee mom who lost her two children in pit bull attack raises $97K on GoFundMe
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE: A fundraising campaign to help Kirstie Jane Bennard, who is fighting for her life after losing her two children in a fatal pit bull attack, has raised nearly $97,000.
Kirstie was left with life-threatening wounds after she tried to shield her children from the family's pit bulls in the fatal mauling. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said the attack took place on Wednesday, October 5, 2022, in west Tennessee outside Memphis. The 30-year-old mother sustained severe injuries after she tried to protect her five-month-old son Hollace Dean and two-year-old daughter Lilly Jane but in vain. As Kirstie underwent treatment, her loved ones started a GoFundMe page to cover medical expenses and have raised nearly $97,000 of their $100,000 goal as of Tuesday, October 11.
Speaking to USA Today on Saturday, Jeff Gibson, the uncle of Kirstie's husband Colby, said the brave mum "put her body on top of Lilly’s to try and protect her after the attack started," adding, “Both [dogs] started attacking her while she lay on Lilly." Authorities pronounced the two young children dead at the scene and Kirstie was rushed to a hospital in critical condition. According to Jeff, Colby wasn't home at the time of the attack.
In an update on Thursday, October 6, the sheriff's office wrote that “detectives report that the mother has been upgraded to stable condition at Regional One Health. The two pit bulls responsible for the attack were euthanized this afternoon by Memphis Animal Services. This is still an active, ongoing investigation."
UPDATE: SCSO detectives report that the mother has been upgraded to stable condition at Regional One Health. The two pit bulls responsible for the attack were euthanized this afternoon by Memphis Animal Services. This is still an active, ongoing investigation.— ShelbyTNSheriff (@ShelbyTNSheriff) October 6, 2022
Taking to Facebook the same day, Jeff revealed that Kirstie had “an uncountable amount of stitches and bite marks over her entire body including her face. Both arms and legs are bandaged/wrapped up completely. As of now, it looks like there isn’t any permanent damage other than "a heart that will never heal." He called the embattled mum “a f**king hero!” and said the attack “lasted over 10 minutes and she never gave up trying to save these babies." "Now all of us, family and friends, have to rally around both of them and show them how much they are loved. I don’t know if there can be a healing process but hopefully, we can ALL find a way to cope with this tragedy," he said.
Kelsey Canfield, a friend of Kirstie's, told Fox News that the family had owned the dogs -- Cheech and Mia -- for more than eight years without any issues. “I can promise you those children were her world, and if there was any inkling of danger, she would have never had those dogs near her kids,” she told Fox News, “Those children were everything to them, and they just have a really long journey ahead.”
Kelsey continued, “That attack lasted longer than any one of us could have ever imagined. She was initially confused. She’s awake now, and she’s aware of what happened," she said. “They were perfect, they were beautiful,” Kelsey added of the two deceased children, saying they "worshipped each other."
“It was not just a loss to my sister but to me as well,” Kirstie's sister told Fox News. “That was my niece and nephew.” Meanwhile, family friend Stephanie Chipman wrote on Facebook, "To say that I am at a loss for words and my heart is and has been breaking since I found out is an understatement."
She added, “Just in absolute shock. Praying so so so hard for the good Lord to hold you and your family tight and help you make your way through this. Here for you always and love you so much!”
Debbie Harvey, another family friend, described the Bennards on the GoFundMe page as “incredible and sweet," adding, “They are so loved in this community and we need to step up to support them."