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17-month-old toddler dies after being attacked by a dog bought a week ago

A 17-month-old toddler has died after being attacked by a dog in her home.

Bella-Rae Birch died in hospital after the attack in St Helens on Monday, Merseyside Police said.

Officers said her “absolutely devastated” family had only bought the dog a week ago.




Police will carry out tests on the animal, which was killed by officers, to see if it was an illegal breed, as well as trying to identify its previous owners.

The attack happened at the family’s home in Bidston Avenue in the Blackbrook area of St Helens.

One neighbour, who is due to go to university to train as a paramedic, said the child’s parents were “hysterical”.



“We pulled up from school and heard screaming. I just ran over to try to help and started CPR until the paramedics took over,” she said.

“I didn’t see the dog, I was just focusing on helping the baby.”

Neighbour Joanne Matthews said she saw an ambulance outside the house and then about 10 police vehicles arrived.

“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,” she said.

Anyone who witnessed anything in the area at the time, or who has information about the dog, has been asked to contact police.

Det Insp Lisa Milligan said: “This is a tragic incident and our thoughts are with the child’s family at this devastating 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.”

Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell said she was “devastated to hear news that a young girl tragically lost her life”.




“Thoughts are with her family and loved ones,” she tweeted.

She said police and St Helens Council were supporting the family and the local community.