The dog that mauled a 17-month old girl to death was not a banned breed police have revealed.Bella-Rae Birch died in hospital after the deadly attack which took place in her home in the Blackbrook area of St Helens, Merseyside, at 3.50pm on Monday.
The family had bought the dog just one week before the attack.Merseyside Police said tests showed the animal, which was destroyed following the attack, was an American bully XL. The force said the breed was legal and not subject to any prohibitions under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.
There are currently four dog breeds that are banned in the UK; Pitbull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasileiro. Neighbours on Bidston Avenue described trying to save the ‘beautiful’ toddler after hearing her parents’ screams.
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In a statement released on Tuesday, her 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.
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‘She will be sadly missed but never forgotten.’Following the attack, 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.
‘Whilst 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.’
Police inquiries into Bella-Rae’s death are ongoing and the family is being supported by specialist officers, a spokesperson said.
INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: One survey found that 81 percent of cat owners let their felines sleep on the bed, compared to 73 percent of dog owners.
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