Boy, 3, dies after being bitten by dog in Halstead
A three-year-old boy has died after he was attacked by a dog in Essex.
Dexter Neal was bitten by an American Bulldog in Parker Way, Halstead, at 17:40 BST on Thursday.
An air ambulance was called to the scene and the boy was airlifted to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.
A 29-year-old woman arrested for allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control has been released on bail until 19 October. The dog was seized by police and placed in kennels.
Dexter lived in Ronald Road, Halstead, police said.
Neighbour Phyllis Younger said: "I heard this screaming. I did not really associate it with anything terrible - it was like children having a bit of fun. But then I thought it might not be quite right.
"Then it was quiet. I looked out of the window and saw a police car and paramedics and neighbours looking along the road."
Mrs Younger went outside and asked what had happened.
"They told me the dog had attacked the little boy and he was in a bad way."
She said the family involved had not lived in the street for very long and "kept themselves to themselves".
Shirley Diver, mayor of Halstead, said the incident was heartbreaking.
She said: "It's dreadful news, it really is. I've had dogs all my life and I don't think you can ever trust a dog 100% with any child.
"It's so sad. I feel so sadly for the family who are involved. Words can't express how it affects anybody. The whole town is in shock."
Scott Nowell, 19, who dialled 999, described "terrible scenes" and said neighbours had gathered around Dexter's "distraught" mother as people tried to save her son.
Braintree MP James Cleverly was briefed about the incident by police.
He said: "I have got children of my own, and this is both shocking and heartbreaking. For any parent, this is the most terrible news.
"I'm very conscious that the original Dangerous Dogs Act was brought in in response to incidents just like this and I think most people agree it was not a particularly well-drafted piece of legislation. There's a number of gaps.
"So I think the last thing we should do now is any kind of knee-jerk reaction, but we do need to look at the rules around dog ownership and also about how dogs are looked after and particularly when there are children involved."
Dexter Neal's death comes just days after a 52-year-old man was attacked and killed by a dog which had been returned to its owner despite concerns that it was dangerous.
David Ellam was out walking with his Yorkshire terrier close to his home in Huddersfield on Monday when he was attacked by another dog. He later died in hospital.
West Yorkshire Police said the animal had been seized by police following a visit by a dog warden in June, but had been returned to its owner on 8 August after it was determined that it was not a banned breed.
Pet owners convicted of dangerous dogs offences will face harsher punishments under new sentencing guidelines in England and Wales.
The guidelines, which came into force from July, reflect 2014 changes to the law that increased maximum sentences.
The Sentencing Council said sentences were "likely to be higher than in the past" but must be "proportionate".
Fatal attacks on children by dogs from recent years
- Three-week-old Reggie Blacklin died after being bitten by a small terrier-type pet dog at his home in Falkland Road, Sunderland last year. He later died at hospital.
- In 2014, six-day-old Eliza Mae Mullane died after being pulled from her pram and bitten by the family's pet dog at their home in Pontyberem, Carmarthenshire.
- Eleven-month-old Ava-Jayne Corless was mauled to death by a nine-stone pit bull terrier at her Blackburn home as her mother and then boyfriend Lee Wright, the owner of the dog, slept in 2014.
- Six-month-old Molly-Mae Wotherspoon was fatally attacked by her family's American pit bull terrier at her mother's home in Daventry, Northamptonshire in 2014.
- In 2013, 14-year-old Jade Anderson was mauled to death by four dogs while visiting her friend near Wigan.
Changes to sentencing guidelines in 2014 raised the maximum jail sentence for a fatal dog attack from two years to 14.
The amendments to the Dangerous Dogs Act also extended the law to include attacks which happen on private property and introduced a new offence of attacks on assistance dogs such as guide dogs.
Banned breeds are pit bull terriers, the Japanese tosa, dogo Argentino and fila Braziliero.