'Pit bull' kills 11-month-old girl in England

Wednesday, February 12, 2014    

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THE young mother and stepfather of an 11-month-old girl were arrested yesterday on suspicion of manslaughter a day after the baby was mauled to death by a pit bull while in bed at her stepfather's home in Blackburn, Lancashire, England.

The Daily Mail reported yesterday that little Ava-Jayne Corless was rushed to hospital at around 11:00 pm Monday after she was attacked by the pet dog.

"Police officers and paramedics attempted to revive her, but she was pronounced dead at the Royal Blackburn Hospital," the Daily Mail report said.

According to the newspaper, the dead child's mother and stepfather were downstairs at the time of the attack.

"The exact breed of the pet — which has now been destroyed — is not known, but police believe that it was a pit bull terrier-type dog, which is a prohibited breed," the Mail reported, adding that Lancashire police say the dog involved in the attack was banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

Yesterday, Ava-Jayne's father, Dean Corless, revealed his grief at hearing of the attack, saying: "I am absolutely devastated after what has happened. I found out late last night and rushed to the hospital to see her straight away."

The 24-year-old added: "She was the most beautiful and adorable little girl, she was just the best. She was my whole world. I will miss her every single day. I just don't know what to do now. It is just so tragic. I have my family around me now, but we are all devastated."

The child's grandmother, Bernadette Corless, was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying: "She was so young, it is so unfair for a baby to be taken away at that age. She was just beautiful — like a china doll. She was a lively baby and was always happy."

According to the Mail, Dean Corless said that he dated Ava-Jayne's mother, Chloe King, for four years before the pair separated last summer.

"King, 20, and her new boyfriend Lee Wright, 26, were arrested in the wake of the girl's death and questioned on suspicion of child neglect, before being re-arrested on suspicion of manslaughter," the Mail story said, adding that a post-mortem will be performed to determine the exact cause of death.

"This is an absolutely horrific incident in which a baby girl has lost her life, and I would like to take this opportunity to express my own personal sympathy to the wider family of baby Ava," the Mail quoted Chief Superintendent Chris Bithell.

"The baby was upstairs in a bed in one of the front bedrooms and the two people who are currently in custody, they were downstairs when the attack took place," Bithell said.

"The dog is believed to be an American pit bull-type, it has been destroyed and tests will be carried out today to establish the exact breed of the dog and inquiries into the history of the animal," the Mail quoted Bithell.

Police are investigating claims that neighbours have previously complained about dangerous dogs living at the house, the newspaper said, adding that local residents reported seeing police struggle to enter the house as the cross-breed dog raged out of control.

"A specialist team later managed to detain the animal and took it away as part of the investigation before destroying it," the newspaper report said.

According to the newspaper report, neighbours described the dog as "vicious and terrifying," and said it had attacked and killed a cat in the area last year, prompting questions as to why it was not brought under control earlier.

"That dog is a menace, it was a nightmare for neighbours and people were terrified of approaching it in the street," the Mail reported next-door neighbour Brian Harrison as saying.

"Such a small girl against the dog is an unfair battle. It's an absolute tragedy that should never have happened -- there's been plenty of warning signs in the past.

"Only last year it mauled to death a neighbour's cat and nothing was done about it," Harrisom added.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals confirmed that it had been called to the house after the death of a cat, although it concluded that the incident was nothing more than an accident.

"I'm surprised that such a tiny baby has been allowed around it. I'm sure there's days when it's OK, but it only takes one thing to trigger it," Harrison said.





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