Bella-Rae Birch: Tributes to ‘beautiful’ 17-month-old girl killed in dog attack at her home in St Helens

·3-min read
Bella-Rae Birch: Tributes to ‘beautiful’ 17-month-old girl killed in dog attack at her home in St Helens

The heartbroken family of a 17-month-old girl who died after being attacked by a dog have said the toddler will “never be forgotten” in an emotional tribute.

Bella-Rae Birch was found injured by Merseyside Police at a property on Bidston Avenue, in the Blackbrook area of St Helens at 3.50pm on Monday.

Bella-Rae was taken to hospital but later died of her injuries.

Her grieving family made a short statement through the police force thanking the community for their support after the tragedy.

They said: ““As a family we would like to thank the community for their support.

“We would ask that we are now allowed some space and time to try and come to terms with the tragic loss of our much-loved Bella-Rae.

“She will be sadly missed but never forgotten.”

Neighbours described trying to save the “beautiful” toddler after hearing her parents’ screams.

Bella-Rae Birch who tragically died following a dog attack in St Helens (Merseyside Police)
Bella-Rae Birch who tragically died following a dog attack in St Helens (Merseyside Police)

Police said the dog had only been with the family a week. It has been put down.

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 devastating time.

"Our specialist family liaison officers are providing the family of Bella-Rae with support and officers will remain in the area in the coming days to provide further reassurance and support for the wider community.

"At this stage we understand that the family dog they had bought just a week earlier has attacked Bella-Rae inside the family home.

"Bella-Rae was taken by ambulance to hospital by paramedics but despite the best efforts of police officers at scene, paramedics and doctors sadly Bella-Rae died as a result of her injuries yesterday afternoon.

"It has left a family and a community grieving and in complete shock."

The force said the dog had been humanely destroyed and work was ongoing to determine its breed and its previous owners.

One neighbour, who gave her name as Jordan, said she ran to help Bella-Rae.

She said: "We pulled up from school and heard screaming. I just ran over to try to help and started CPR until the paramedics took over."

The neighbour, who is due to go to university to train as a paramedic, said the child's parents were "hysterical".

Bella-Rae Birch was described by neighbours as a ‘beautiful little girl’ (Facebook)
Bella-Rae Birch was described by neighbours as a ‘beautiful little girl’ (Facebook)

She added: "I didn't see the dog, I was just focusing on helping the baby."

Another neighbour who helped to give CPR said: "The parents doted on the children. It's too upsetting to say anything else."

Neighbour Joanne Matthews, 53, said: "She was such a beautiful little girl, toddling about.

"I'd see the family in passing, just to say hello, and they were always very pleasant."

Ms Matthews said she had seen the ambulance outside the house at about 3.50pm on Monday and then about 10 police cars, including a van, arrive.

She said: "I saw them bring the dog out. I couldn't tell what breed it was but from the back it looked like a Staffordshire bull terrier or pitbull."

Police confirmed the animal will be examined to determine its breed and whether or not is a legal breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Anyone with information can contact Merseyside Police on Twitter @MerPolCC, or Merseyside Police Contact Centre on Facebook, with reference number 22000196837.