Pennsylvania Parents Charged After Pet Ferrets Maul Their 1-Month-Old Daughter

| by Jared Keever
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A Pennsylvania couple, charged with child endangerment after their pet ferrets severely mauled their 1-month-old daughter, leaving the child with severe facial injuries, say they aren’t the ones to blame for the attack, the ferrets are. 

WCAU News reports Burnie Fraim, 42, and 24-year-old Jessica Benales were charged with five counts each of endangering the welfare of a child. They were arraigned in court Monday.

Police say the girl was strapped into a car seat and left unattended in the downstairs living room of the home while her mother went upstairs and Fraim was sleeping in another room. As many as three of the family’s pet ferrets escaped a mesh cage and attacked the girl.

The animals chewed off the baby’s nose, part of her upper lip and part her cheek.

“The baby looked like, um, like it didn’t have a face,” Fraim told KYW News during an interview outside his Darby, Pennsylvania home. 

He said he and his fiancee shouldn’t face charges.

“It’s not our fault. We didn’t do it, the animals did it,” Fraim said. 

“This little mistake happened. I wish it never did happen, but it happened,” he added. 

Darby Borough Police Chief Robert Smythe said what happened was the “most horrific thing” he had ever seen happen to a child in his 45-year career. 

“Just imagine that 1-month-old baby, that can't help herself, (and) two or three animals are eating it alive,” Smythe told The Associated Press. “Imagine the pain.”

Fraim and Benales also had four other young children living with them in the home.

Smythe said he believed the couple had developmental disabilities.

“They cannot care for these five children,” he said, adding that all of the children have special needs as well.

Smythe said prior to the couple being charged that he hoped the children would be placed in foster care. 

Police said the home was infested with insects and had very little food in the refrigerator and cupboards.

For now the four other children are staying with relatives. It is uncertain where they will end up now that their parents face charges. 

The baby who was injured was taken to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and underwent emergency surgery. She is now in stable condition but will have to undergo several more surgeries to repair the damage, Fraim said. 

The ferrets were tested for rabies after the attack and later euthanized. 

Sources: WCAU NewsKYW NewsKCTV News (AP Story) / Photo Credit: KYW News, WikiCommons