Dog which attacked toddler was not a banned breed, police say

Bella-Rae Birch died after being attacked by the family pet in her home in St Helens on Monday.

24 March 2022

A dog which killed a 17-month-old girl in an attack was not a banned breed, police have said.

Bella-Rae Birch died in hospital from her injuries after emergency services were called to her home in the Blackbrook area of St Helens, Merseyside, at 3.50pm on Monday.

Merseyside Police said tests showed the dog, which the family had bought just a week earlier, was an American bully XL.

The force said the breed was legal and not subject to any prohibitions under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

Neighbours on Bidston Avenue described trying to save the “beautiful” toddler after hearing her parents’ screams.

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.

Blackbrook dog attack
A woman lays flowers at a house in St Helens where a 17-month-old girl died after being attacked by a dog (Peter Byrne/PA)

“She will be sadly missed but never forgotten.”

Police inquiries into her death are ongoing and the family is being supported by specialist officers, a spokesman said.

Anyone with information can contact Merseyside Police on Twitter @MerPolCC, or Merseyside Police Contact Centre on Facebook, with reference number 22000196837.

They can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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