The family of a four-year-old mauled to death in the UK by a pet dog have described her as “a bubbly, bright little girl” who “fought for her life from the moment she was born”.
Lexi Branson died despite the desperate attempts of her mother Jodie Hudson to halt the attack at their flat in Mountsorrel, Leicestershire, family friends said.
In a statement, Ms Hudson and Lexi’s grandmother Kerry Hudson said: “There’s been a tragedy in the family. Lexi was a bubbly, bright little girl. She fought for her life from the moment she was born as she was born 3 months prematurely. She’s been taken from us so tragically.
“She will be sadly missed, she will be our shining star in the sky and she we will never be forgotten.”
Neighbours said the family had the dog for only around two months after picking it up from a local rescue centre.
Lexi was rushed to Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre but doctors were unable to save her.
Family friends said Ms Hudson had been told the dog was safe around children. The animal apparently attacked Lexi without provocation.
According to unconfirmed reports, Lexi’s mum stabbed the dog to try and stop the attack.
Police confirmed that the dog died shortly after the attack, which was reported to the emergency services at 12.14pm.
In a statement , Leicestershire Police said: “Investigations are continuing into the circumstances that led to a four-year-old girl being attacked and killed by the family dog.
“Tests are being carried out today to establish the exact breed of the dog but at this stage it is not believed to be a breed listed under Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act.”
The fatal incident took place in Rowena Court, a cul-de-sac containing small blocks of flats.
Glennis Goddard, who has lived in the street for 27 years, said of Lexi: “She was a sweet little thing and used to run round here on a bike and knock on my windows.
“She used to play with our cats, outside. She wasn’t very big, only a little thin thing. It’s a terrible shock.”
Ms Goddard said the dog had been no trouble at all previously and could not understand why it had apparently turned.
She said she had been stroking the dog just two days ago after seeing it out with Ms Hudson.
“Something must have snapped him,” she said.
Orchard Kennels and Cattery, in Barrow-upon-Soar, confirmed that the family had got the dog from them.
A spokesman, who did not want to be named, said he could not comment any further while the police investigation was ongoing.