South West Wales

Police seize dog as six-day-old baby in Pontyberem dies

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Media captionCh Insp Ieuan Mathews said specially trained officers were helping the family

A six-day-old baby who died at a house in Carmarthenshire where a dog was later seized has been named as Eliza-Mae Mullane.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers were called to a home in New Road, Pontyberem, shortly before 08:30 GMT on Tuesday.

Eliza-Mae was airlifted to the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, but was later pronounced dead, the Welsh Ambulance Service said.

An Alaskan Malamute dog, which is not a banned breed, has been taken away.

Dyfed-Powys Police said it could not confirm the exact cause of Eliza-Mae's death or details of her injuries.

Her parents have not yet been interviewed.

"We are not going to speculate on reports from people in the community and we respectfully ask that you wait for the investigation to run its proper course," a police spokesman said.

News of the tragedy first emerged at about 08:30 GMT on Tuesday.

Neighbour Patricia Punter, 71, said Eliza-Mae's mother Sharon John ran outside shouting that her baby had died.

"It was terrible - I've never heard anything like it. Sharon was in a state of shock and just screaming," she said.

Mrs Punter said Ms John's partner Patrick Mullane had brought the Alaskan Malamute called Nisha home from a night out at the pub.

"She'd only brought the baby home in the last week. It is just awful - they loved their dogs as much as their children," she added.

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Sharon John, who gave birth last week, screamed in horror after finding her baby. Neighbours said her partner Patrick Mullane had brought the dog home from the pub
Image caption The dog involved in the incident was an Alaskan Malamute, which is not a banned breed
Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Police have put up a tent outside the baby's home

Family friend Gemma Prosser, 22, said the couple had been looking forward to the arrival of their new baby.

"It's just heartbreaking for Sharon and Patrick," she said.

"One minute they had a bundle of joy in their arms and all those lovely things to look forward to when you are new parents.

"The next minute they have lost their little girl in such a terrible way."

Ch Insp Ieuan Mathews told BBC Wales there were two other children under the age of six in the house at the time and it was Eliza-Mae's mother who raised the alarm.

"We were called by the Welsh Ambulance NHS Trust just before 8.30am this morning and the baby was taken by Helimed... sadly she was later pronounced dead at University of Wales Hospital in Cardiff.

"The family dog - an Alaskan Malamute - has been seized by police in connection with the ongoing enquiry. I can confirm that this dog is not listed under the Dangerous Dogs Act."

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Media captionNeighbours say they are 'shocked and saddened'

'Hugely distressed'

Mr Mathews said investigations were continuing and it was too soon to say whether the dog would be put down.

"I think it's fair to say that [the dog] is a key element of the inquiry from the initial information that was presented to us when the emergency services arrived," he said.

Speaking to reporters at a news conference in the village, Mr Mathews said police sympathies were with the family "at this tragic time" and that specialist officers were supporting them.

"As you can imagine, the family are hugely distressed," he said.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The dog seized was an Alaskan Malamute, similar to the one pictured

"We facilitated their transport and arrival at the [University] hospital to spend time with their little baby girl. As I say, very tragic circumstances and our hearts go out to everybody involved."

Alaskan Malamutes were originally bred as sled dogs for work in the Arctic but have become popular as family pets.

The Alaskan Malamute Club of the United Kingdom described the breed on its website as "heavy boned and powerfully built" as well as affectionate and friendly.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club secretary, said: "Any breed of dog can be wonderful or potentially dangerous in the wrong hands, which is why it is critical to have the correct training and socialisation.

"Alaskan Malamutes can make wonderful family pets but their rapid increase in popularity has largely been fuelled by fashion, with too many people failing to do their research and or to understand the amount of exercise that this breed requires."

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