Wis. Mom Is Killed Trying to Defend 4-Year-Old Son from Attack by Family Pit Bull

Heather Pingel died eight days after the Dec. 8 incident

Heather Pingel
Heather Pingel. Photo: GoFundMe

Heather Pingel's relatives are hailing her as a hero after the mother-of-two died protecting her child from a savage dog attack, PEOPLE confirms.

According to an incident report, Pingel, 35, lost both of her arms in the Dec. 8 attack, which took place inside the Bowler, Wisc., home she shared with her longtime boyfriend and their sons.

Pingel called her boyfriend after one of their sons fell downs some stairs, the report indicates.

He returned home on Dec. 8 to find Pingel fighting the dog off.

The report claims the dog bit the injured boy, and, as Pingel was moving the dog away from her child, it turned on her.

Pingel's boyfriend grabbed his gun and shot the dog — a pit bull that had been abused by a previous owner — to death.

Pingel was rushed to a hospital in Wausau, where she died eight days later.

A GoFundMe campaign has been started to raise money to pay for Pingel's medical expenses and funeral.

"A dog attacked their son and she did what any amazing mother would and sacrificed herself to save him," Shannon Pingel, Pingel's sister, writes of the "unimaginable" attack. "He is doing good — a lot of stitches, but nothing too serious. My sister was not so lucky; she lost her life saving her son."

The page notes that Pingel's boyfriend lost his job a day before the attack.

Shannon Pingel told WSAW her artistic sister loved being a mom, and lived for her boys.

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"I'm going to miss how wonderful she was as a mother," Shannon said. "She did anything and everything for her two kids. She was a stay-at-home who loved her job. And her kids adore her. I'm going to miss calling her and asking when she was going to be here... because she was always running late. I'm just going to miss everything about her."

Pingel's cousin, Jennifer Person, also spoke to the station.

"She was just a wonderful person," Person said. "So kind and loving. She was always there to help people whenever she could. Her kids were everything to her. She loved them so fiercely, as she demonstrated by giving her life so her son would survive."

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