Neighbour Brian Harrison labelled the pitbull-type dog a “menace” while it was said to have savaged a neighbour’s cat to death two years ago
Neighbours of tragic baby Ava-Jayne Corless tonight described the dog said to have killed her as a “menace” – and claimed it is called ‘Killer’.
And they were horrified to learn the pitbull type animal, a banned breed, had apparently attacked as she slept alone in a bedroom.
The neighbour who claimed the dog was called ‘Killer’ said it savaged a neighbour’s cat to death two years ago.
Ava-Jayne’s mum Chloe King, 20, and her 26-year-old boyfriend Lee Wright, the dog’s owner were quizzed on suspicion of manslaughter on Tuesday night.
Police have this morning bailed them both – pending further inquiries.
As floral tributes piled up outside the home where Ava-Jayne died, neighbour Brian Harrison, 80, said of Killer: “That dog is a menace. I’m surprised such a tiny baby has been allowed around it.
“It’s not a friendly dog and the poor girl wouldn’t have stood a chance against it. Not a hope. It’s an absolute tragedy that should never have happened.”
Mr Harrison said of Monday’s incident: “When police arrived it was barking wildly and they couldn’t get inside, they had to wait quite a long time before entering.”
Defenceless Ava-Jayne, who would have been one on March 9, died in hospital after the attack at Wright’s home in Blackburn.
She was apparently mauled in her sleep as her mum, who lives nearby, sat downstairs with her boyfriend.
Paramedics called to the home found a scene of “horror” when they arrived. They tried desperately to revive her but failed. Doctors were also unable to save her.
Blackburn’s Labour MP Jack Straw said: “This is the most awful killing, of an innocent 11-month-old baby by an out-of-control, and self-evidently dangerous dog.
“What will it take to convince people not to keep dogs like this, and to get across to all dog owners, of every breed of dog, that no dog should ever be left unsupervised with a baby?
“However domesticated a dog may be, its hunting instinct can take over.”
The man pictured with Ava-Jayne in the above gallery is her father Dean Corless
Ava-Jayne’s dad, Dean Corless paid tribute to his daughter.
The 24-year-old said: “She was the most beautiful and adorable little girl, she was just the best. She was my whole world. Her mum and I aren’t together anymore, but I saw Ava-Jayne all the time.
“I will miss her every single day, I just don’t know what to do now. It is so tragic. I have my family around me, but we are all devastated.”
He met his ex on Facebook and they were together for four years before splitting last summer.
His mum Bernadette, 51, added: “I just can’t believe it, it’s such a shock. She was so young, it is so unfair for a baby to be taken away. She was just beautiful, like a china doll. She was a lively baby and was always happy.”
Chloe’s mother Claire King, 39, said: “We are devastated.”
Neighbour Brenda Walmersley added: “The baby was absolutely beautiful, with dark curly hair.”
Another said: “She was a lovely little girl, always smiling, always happy. This has sickened me to my stomach.”
The RSPCA confirmed that the dog Killer had previously savaged a cat.
A spokesman said: “We were contacted about a cat that had been attacked and died in a garden at this address in March 2012. At the time there was no suggestion the incident was anything other than an accident. No action was taken.”
Chief Superintendent Chris Bithell of Lancashire police said Killer was a pit bull type breed banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act.
He added: “This is an absolutely horrific incident. Officers who attended performed CPR on the baby with paramedics before she was taken to Royal Blackburn Hospital. Sadly she passed away a short time later.
“The dog involved was destroyed at the scene. We are making inquiries to see whether there have been previous issues with this particular dog.”
Neighbour Faisal Shahzad said there was more than one dog kept at the home. He added: “I had complained to the police about the dogs before because they had been coming into our garden.
“I have three kids who play in the garden, and one dog was bothering them. I had to chase it out.”
OPINION: We need to educate dog owners
Rebecca Heyworth, pet behaviour counsellor
Pit bulls were bred to fight and a dog hearing a baby’s squeals can trigger a response.
Some dogs are much more prone to that. Bull terriers have low impulse control. If you have a child and a dog, they must be actively supervised.
The emphasis should be on education and people knowing how their dogs operate.
For: IBC NEWS