Toddler aged just 17 months is killed in the family home by dog bought by her ‘absolutely devastated’ parents just a week ago
- Baby girl has been mauled to death by a dog in family home in Merseyside
- Merseyside Police said 17-month-old was attacked in Bidston Avenue, St Helens
- The child was taken to hospital on Monday and died from her injuries
- Dog was destroyed as police probe whether animal was an illegal breed
A baby girl has been mauled to death at home by a dog which was bought just a week ago, police have said.
Merseyside Police said officers received a report that a child had been attacked by a dog at an address on Bidston Avenue in Blackbrook, St Helens at around 3.50pm on Monday afternoon.
Emergency services attended and the 17-month-old was taken to hospital where she died from her injuries.
The force added the dog was handed over to police at the address and has been destroyed. Police are investigating whether the dog was an illegal breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.
Officers remained at scene on Bidston Avenue this morning and extensive CCTV, witness and house-to-house inquiries are being carried out.
Merseyside Police said officers received a report that a child had been attacked by a dog at an address on Bidston Avenue in Blackbrook, St Helens at around 3.50pm on Monday afternoon
Police at the house where a baby girl was mauled to death by a dog, Bidston Avenue
A woman lays flowers at a house in St Helens after a 17-month-old girl was killed by a dog
A police car (bottom centre) outside a house in St Helens after a 17-month-old girl died after being attacked by a dog at an address on Bidston Avenue
Neighbors in Blackbrook spoke of their shock after the 17-month-old died of her injuries following Monday’s attack.
Joanne Matthews, 53, said: ‘She was such a beautiful little girl, toddling about. I’d see the family in passing, just to say hello, and they were always very pleasant.’
Ms Matthews said she saw an ambulance outside the house on Bidston Avenue and then about 10 police vehicles arrived. She said: ‘I saw them bring the dog out. I couldn’t tell what breed it was but from the back it looked like a Staffordshire bull terrier or pit bull.’
Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said she got home from the shops at about 4.30pm, when the area was busy with police.
She said: ‘The mum was on the field at the front of the house crying. She was hysterical.
‘It is usually very quiet here and safe for children, but when you hear something like this has happened it is so distressing.’
Detective Inspector Lisa Milligan said: ‘This is a tragic incident and our thoughts are with the child’s family at this devastating time. The little girl’s parents and wider family are absolutely devastated and our specialist Family Liaison Officers are providing them with support at this horrendous time.
Officers received a report that a child had been attacked by a dog on Bidston Avenue in Blackbrook, St Helens, Merseyside on Monday afternoon
Officers remained at scene on Bidston Avenue this morning and extensive CCTV, witness and house-to-house inquiries are being carried out
‘While we are in the very early stages of the investigation into this extremely tragic incident we can confirm that the dog was only bought by the family a week ago and officers are working to identify the previous owners of the dog concerned and establish its history.
‘Our officers will remain on Bidston Avenue this evening and in the coming days to provide reassurance to the local community and we will work tirelessly to establish the full circumstances.
‘If you were in the Bidston Avenue area this afternoon and witnessed anything, or have any information about the dog in question then please come forward speak to one of our officers.
‘Our officers take the issue of dangerous dogs very seriously. Over the past years we have worked proactively with the five local authorities in Merseyside to ensure prohibited dogs are taken off the streets.’
Anyone with any information is asked to contact us via our social media desk @MerPolCC or Merseyside Police Contact Center on Facebook, with reference 22000196837.
Alternatively, you can call the independent charity @CrimestoppersUK anonymously, on 0800 555 111. You can also use their online form at: https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/give-information.
What’s the Dangerous Dogs Act? Which dogs are banned? And why is it controversial?
WHAT IS THE DANGEROUS DOGS ACT?
The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 bans or restricts certain types of dogs and makes it an offense to allow a dog of any breed to be dangerously out of control.
It was introduced 30 years ago by Home Secretary Kenneth Baker ‘to rid the country of the menace of these fighting dogs’ after a string of attacks.
WHICH DOGS ARE BANNED IN THE UK?
It is illegal to own four breeds of dogs without an exemption from a court. They are:
- American Pit Bull Terriers;
- japanese cough
- Argentine Dogo;
- Brazilian Row
The law also criminalises cross-breeds of the above four types of dog – meaning that whether a dog is prohibited will depend on a judgment about its physical characteristics, and whether they match the description of a prohibited ‘type’.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE’S A DOG ATTACK?
You can get an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to six months if your dog is dangerously out of control.
You may not be allowed to own a dog in the future and your dog may be destroyed.
If you let your dog injure someone you can be sent to prison for up to five years or fined. If you deliberately use your dog to injure someone you could be charged with ‘malicious wounding’.
And if you allow your dog to kill someone you can be sent to prison for up to 14 years or get an unlimited fine.
WHY IS THE ACT CONTROVERSIAL?
Both the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the British Veterinary Association have protested against the ban, insisting there is no scientific evidence that all individuals of a breed are dangerous.
However, Met Police data suggests that in incidents involving ‘dangerously out of control dogs’, banned breeds account for about a fifth of offenses.