Little Bella-Rae died of her injuries when she was attacked by the family’s new pet dog only a week after they had bought the animal to their home in St Helens, Merseyside
The former owners of a killer dog, which mauled a 17-month-old girl to death, are now being quizzed by police.
Bella-Rae Birch was attacked by the animal in her family home in St Helens, Merseyside, on Monday, March 21 at around 3.50pm.
Police said the family of four had only had the dog for a week when it set upon the tot, leaving her with fatal injuries.
Despite desperate attempts by Bella-Rae’s family, neighbours and paramedics, she was pronounced dead at hospital later that day.
Now officers have confirmed they are speaking to previous owners of the animal as their investigation continues.
Neighbours who witnessed the aftermath of the horrific attack saw the animal being brought out by police.
One woman described the animal as “stocky” adding that she thought it was a Pitbull or Staffy.
Other neighbours reported seeing the animal brought out with a metal collar and rod by police officers.
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 time.
Merseyside Police / SWNS.COM)
“During the incident the dog was handed over to police at the address and has been humanely destroyed.
“Detailed investigations are continuing into this tragic event forensic examinations to determine the dogs breed are ongoing and we are working to identify all the previous owners of the dog so we can establish its history.”
Bella-Rae leaves behind her parents, Treysharn Bates and Ryan Birch, as well as an older brother.
The family have now launched a GoFundMe page to raise money for a “beautiful” send off for their daughter.
Bella-Rae’s mum Treysharn wrote on the fundraiser: “On the 21st of March we sadly lost our gorgeous blue eyed baby girl, who was just one years of age, in a tragic sudden accident.
Merseyside Police / SWNS.COM)
“We are now in a position where we need to raise funds towards the most beautiful send off.
“Every little will help, every little is appreciated. Thank you everyone”
One stunned neighbour, named only as Jordan, who is hoping to go to university in September to train to be a paramedic, told how she tried to save the little girl.
The mum ran over to help after hearing the parents’ screams.
The heroic neighbour said she had picked her children up from school and saw the commotion when she returned home to a nearby street.
She performed CPR on Bella-Rae Birch until the paramedics took over and said: “My head is in a mess.”.
Jordan said the baby’s mum Treysharn Bates was “crying hysterically” outside the house moments after Monday’s horror attack.
She said: “I pulled up in my car. I had been getting my kids from school.
“I heard screaming, and I ran over. The parents were hysterical. I tried to help. People were everywhere. They were crying and screaming. The baby wasn’t well. I tried to help her.
“I didn’t see the dog, I was just focusing on helping the baby. I started CPR, which I did for around 30 seconds. It was just myself. Then the paramedics took over.”