A 17-month old girl has been killed by a dog less than a week after her family bought the pet, police in St Helens, UK, have said.
Bella-Rae Birch died in hospital after being attacked on Monday afternoon in Bidston Avenue in Blackbrook.
In a statement given via Merseyside Police, the family thanked the community for their support.
They said: “We would ask that we are now allowed some space and time to try and come to terms with the tragic loss of our much-loved Bella-Rae.
“She will be sadly missed but never forgotten.”
Superintendent Steve Brizell said: “Bella-Rae has lost her life in the most unimaginably terrible circumstances and our thoughts are first and foremost with the family and the wider community at this devastating time.
“Our specialist family liaison officers are providing the family of Bella-Rae with support and officers will remain in the area in the coming days to provide further reassurance and support for the wider community.
“At this stage we understand that the family dog they had bought just a week earlier has attacked Bella-Rae inside the family home.
“Bella-Rae was taken by ambulance to hospital by paramedics but despite the best efforts of police officers at scene, paramedics and doctors sadly Bella-Rae died as a result of her injuries yesterday afternoon.
“It has left a family and a community grieving and in complete shock.”
The force said the dog had been humanely destroyed and work was ongoing to determine its breed and its previous owners.
‘She was such a beautiful little girl’
Joanne Matthews, a 53 year old neighbour, told the PA news agency: “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 in Bidston Avenue at about 3.50pm on Monday and then about 10 police vehicles arrive.
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.”