A 4-year-old Texas boy is on the road to recovery after he was attacked by five pit bulls earlier this month.
Tiffany McHan says her son, Zion Alexander, is “excited to be” home after spending nearly two weeks in a Houston hospital after the dogs damaged his skull, ears, and face.
“He’s excited to be out of the hospital,” McHan tells PEOPLE, noting that Zion was released from Texas Children’s Hospital on Tuesday. “We’re still taking precautions so he doesn’t further injure himself. He’s eating and he’s going to the bathroom. He has a long recovery, but he’s in good spirits.”
In a recent photo, little Zion smiled as best he could alongside his father, 24-year-old Trevion. The boy’s grandmother, Rochele Howard, shared the photo on Facebook and tells PEOPLE that just because Zion is home does not mean that “all is back to normal.”
“We still have a difficult road ahead. It’s heartbreaking and some days [it is] … unbearable to deal with the obvious changes in his physical appearance,” Howard says of Zion. “But there are moments … moments when he is singing, dancing and playing. There is so much that went wrong that day and so much more that could have gone wrong. He survived.”
Zion was playing outside his aunt’s Liberty, Texas, home with his cousin on Dec. 8 when one of her pit bulls pounced on Zion and several others quickly joined in. Zion’s cousin ran to tell their parents what happened, and Trevion worked to fight off the dogs. A spokesperson for the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the incident to PEOPLE.
“When I saw Zion freed, I picked him up and ran into the house,” McHan previously told PEOPLE. “There was blood everywhere. I didn’t think he was gonna make it. I remember him telling me, ‘Mommy, I’m okay. I’m okay.’ “
Zion was taken to the hospital where his parents learned he had suffered severe injuries, including a fractured skull, damaged ears, several lacerations to the face and internal damage to the right side of his head.
“Watching [Zion] in the hospital was hard at first. When he first saw himself in mirror he said he was ugly and that he looked weird,” Howard tells PEOPLE. “Now that he will have permanent visual injuries I worry about how people will treat him. He survived the attack from the dogs but now he has to deal with people and sometimes they cause more damage and pain than the dogs.”
McHan’s sister, who owned the dogs, has surrendered them to Liberty police and they have been euthanized, McHan says. The family does not plan to press charges, she adds.
The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with Zion’s medical expenses.
The incident marks the second tragedy for the family in recent months. In October, the family’s Houston apartment was destroyed during Hurricane Harvey and the family has been living in a hotel. Mchan said the family escaped the floodwaters on a small boat.
“That’s nothing compared to going through this,” McHan previously told PEOPLE. “But now we don’t have anywhere for our baby to go.”