The father of the young girl who was dragged into the water by a sea lion in British Columbia, Canada, over the weekend is speaking out for the first time about the scary incident — and defending his family against accusations that they provoked the massive mammal.
His interview comes as a spokesperson for the Vancouver Aquarium says the girl is being treated for a rare and hazardous infection known as “seal finger” — which is caused when bacteria from the mammal’s mouth infects a person’s cut.
The footage, shot by Simon Fraser University student Michael Fujiwara, first shows the sea lion bobbing around near the dock while food appears to be tossed its way off-camera. The young girl, excited by the sea lion’s presence, then sits down on a wooden ledge with her back to the water.
Seconds later, the animal pops up from below and grabs her with its mouth, dragging her by her white dress off the wharf as horrifying screams erupt around her.
She was saved by her grandfather, who quickly jumped into the water to rescue her and pulled his granddaughter to safety.
The girl’s father — whose first name was withheld to maintain the privacy of his daughter — spoke with CBC News, calling his daughter’s grandfather a hero.
“If he had one- or two-second doubt about that, my girl could have been gone by then,” the Lau family patriarch said. “That reaction, makes him a hero.”
Michael Fujiwara, who filmed the scary incident, told PEOPLE that the family had been feeding breadcrumbs to the sea lion prior to the attack, but Lau denies it.
“There was somebody beside them that was trying to feed them,” Lau said. “Also, they weren’t trying to take pictures or anything… My daughter went to the front to try to see the sea lions, to get a closer look.”
But he admits his daughter was too close to the sea lion. “That’s a lesson she took and she has taken that lesson in a hard way,” he said.
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After the attack, the young girl was taken to the B.C. Children’s Hospital, where she was prescribed antibiotics for a superficial wound on her lower body measuring 5 centimeters by 10 centimeters.
Vancouver Aquarium spokesperson Deana Lancaster told NBC News the family got in touch to discuss treatment for “seal finger,” which is resistant to some antibiotics.
Not treated properly, the condition — also known as “sealer’s finger” and “spekk-finger” — historically causes massive swelling that lead to those infected losing their fingers or hands.
“She’s going to get the right treatment,” Lancaster said.
Lau, who confirmed to CBC that his daughter was being treated for “seal finger” after talking with the marine experts from the Vancouver Aquarium, said he’s just grateful the young girl is okay.
“Only thing I care is God, she is safe,” he said. “God, I didn’t miss out anyone from my family at that moment. I could have gone organizing a funeral by now rather than doing interview.”