An attack by a Rottweiler which has left a two-year-old girl in hospital with serious injuries is a ‘stark reminder’ of the risks of letting powerful dogs near children, police said today.
The youngster was bitten by the dog on Thorogate, Rawmarsh, Rotherham, while the family pet was being walked on a lead by an older female relative.
The girl was taken to Sheffield Children’s Hospital to be treated for injuries including leg wounds and a split earlobe - and the dog is to be put down.
Supt Paul McCurry, from South Yorkshire Police, said the child’s family had ‘expressed shock and horror’ and decided to have the dog destroyed.
“It’s a stark reminder of the issues around family pets and children and the fact that, with dogs, you just don’t know how they’re going to react,” he said.
“The dog was not dangerously out of control, it was under the control of its owner. It was the family pet, on a lead in a public place. There’s nothing we’re aware of that suggests this is how the dog would normally behave.
“Our inquiry is still at an early stage, but for whatever reason something has happened and the dog has reacted to something - what, we don’t know.”
The attack is understood to have taken place on grassland behind the shops on Thorogate.
Shocked residents said staff from nearby shops tried to help afterwards.
Kath Crow, a grandma from Glebeland Close, said: “I heard there were police everywhere and the ambulance took the girl to hospital. I think staff from the chemists were trying to help.”
Connie Brogan, 78, of Woodleys Avenue, added: “I was really shocked to hear it happened just up the street. All dog attacks are terrible but a big one like that on a little girl has got to be awful.
“I am a believer those dogs should wear muzzles in public.”
The family of the little girl remained at her side in hospital yesterday. A woman - believed to be a relative - said the family was ‘devastated’.