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A FOUR-YEAR-OLD boy who died after being attacked by a dog was a “lovely little lad”, neighbours said yesterday.
The child – named locally as John-Paul Massey – suffered serious injuries at a house in Wavertree, Liverpool, in the early hours of yesterday morning.
He was pronounced dead at the scene, Merseyside Police said.
A 63-year-old woman, who is believed to have been injured as she separated the dog from the child, was taken to hospital for treatment.
Dog handlers and armed response officers attended the house in Ash Grove at 12.24am. Following a safety assessment the animal was destroyed. The dog, described as a pit bull type, is thought to have belonged to the youngster’s uncle, a serving soldier.
A neighbour said: “The barking started last night about midnight. It was very, very loud and drowned out the noise of all the traffic from the main road.
“I heard the police sirens a short time later and looked outside my window and saw an ambulance.”
The neighbour added: “They are a lovely family, very close to each other and he was a lovely little lad.
“You would see him with his grandmother on the street and he always looked happy and smiling.”
The family’s parish priest, Father Peter Morgan, of St Anne’s Church, Wavertree, left the house saying: “There is an awful lot of pain inside.”
He added: “They are broken, it is so, so sad.”
Chief Superintendent Steve Ashley said: “This is a tragic incident and a full and thorough investigation will be carried out into the circumstances surrounding this young boy’s death,” he said.
“Of utmost importance in such incidents is the safety of the public and of police officers.
“When officers arrived at the address the dog was in an agitated state in the front garden of the property and was deemed to be a danger to the public.
“As a result we were left with no other option but to have the animal destroyed quickly and humanely.”
Police tape sealed off the house.
Neighbours spoke of their complete shock at the death of the boy but complained there had been a problem in the area with so-called dangerous dogs.
Gillian Watson, 46, said: “I heard a gunshot at about 2am this morning and I presume that was when they put the dog down.
“There are lots of dangerous-type dogs around here.
“You always see young lads with pit bull dogs roaming around.
“I have a dog myself and when I take him for a walk sometimes it’s quite terrifying because you think your dog is going to be attacked.”
Another neighbour, said a number of residents had complained to the local housing association about the problem of dogs.
He said: “About 12 months ago one of them tore a pet cat to pieces in the middle of the street.”
Following the death of five-year-old Ellie Lawrenson on New Year’s Day 2007, Merseyside Police held a week-long “dangerous dogs” amnesty.
Ellie suffered 72 separate bites during the attack by her uncle’s pit bull, Reuben, at her grandmother’s home in St Helen’s.
The amnesty saw more than 80 illegally-held dogs seized by the police.
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