Bella-Rae Birch: Toddler killed at home by new dog pictured as family pays tribute

‘She will be sadly missed but never forgotten’

Chiara Giordano
Tuesday 22 March 2022 22:21

Toddler killed by family’s new pet dog named as Bella-Rae Birch

The family of a “much-loved” 17-month-old girl who died after being mauled by their new dog have paid tribute as she is pictured for the first time.

Bella-Rae Birch died in hospital from her injuries following the attack at her home in the Blackbrook area of St Helens, Merseyside, on Monday.

In a statement, her family said she would never be forgotten as they asked for the space to grieve.

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 their attempts to save the toddler, who they said was a “beautiful little girl”.

The family of 17-month-old Bella-Rae Birch said she will be ‘sadly missed but never forgotten’

One resident 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 train as a paramedic at university, said the child’s parents were “hysterical”.

Another, who also helped give CPR, said: “The parents doted on the children. It’s too upsetting to say anything else.”

Speaking to reporters outside the house on Tuesday, Merseyside Police superintendent Steve Brizell said the child’s death had left her family and the wider community “grieving and in complete shock”.

He 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.

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

A woman lays flowers outside a house in St Helens as neighbours pay tribute to ‘beautiful’ Bella-Rae Birch who was killed in a dog attack inside the property

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

Police said the dog was put down and is now being examined to determine whether it was banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act (1991).

Neighbour Joanne Matthews, 53, said Bella-Rae was “such a beautiful little girl, toddling about”.

She added: “I’d see the family in passing, just to say hello, and they were always very pleasant.”

Ms Matthews said she saw an ambulance outside the house in Bidston Avenue at about 3.50pm on Monday and then about 10 police vehicles arrive.

Merseyside Police superintendent Steve Brizell speaks to media outside the house where 17-month-old Bella-Rae Birch was mauled to death by a dog her family bought only a week earlier

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 pit bull.”

Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said she got home from the shops at about 4.30pm to find the area busy with police.

She said: “My friend gave me a lift and I said to her, ‘There’s got to have been a murder.’

“The mum was on the field at the front of the house crying. She was hysterical.

“It is usually very quiet here and safe for children, but when you hear something like this has happened it is so distressing.”

Police are urging anyone who was in the Bidston Avenue area on Monday afternoon and may have witnessed something or who has information about the dog to come forward.

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

Additional reporting by Press Association

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in