The four-year-old boy was attacked by the dog, which locals said was a family pet belonging to his uncle, in the early hours of Monday morning while at the home of his grandmother, Helen Foulkes, 63, in Liverpool.
The animal, called Uno, also savaged her before being shot dead by police as she tried to protect the boy she was babysitting at her home on Ash Grove in the Wavertree area of the city.
Merseyside Police admitted yesterday they were told months ago a banned pit bull-type dog had been seen at the house.
A forensic examination was carried out on the animal and the dog was confirmed as being an illegal breed, the force said.
Deputy Chief Constable Patricia Gallan, of Merseyside Police, said: “On behalf of Merseyside Police, I am deeply concerned and very disappointed our policy was not followed in February when we received a call alerting us to the possible breeding of pitbull terriers at the house where the attack took place. This is clearly unacceptable and we are sorry that Merseyside Police did not take the appropriate course of action.”
The owner of the dog could now face a criminal prosecution. Police have refused to confirm whose dog it was, but locals said it was owned by John-Paul’s uncle, who lived with the boy’s grandmother until he joined the army recently.
He is understood to have been given compassionate leave from the forces to be reunited with his family in Liverpool, after being spotted visiting the area on Monday.