Coroner questions bulldog safety
A coroner has questioned whether American Bulldogs should be kept by families with young children after an 18-month-old girl was mauled to death by her uncle's dog.
Zumer Ahmed suffered horrific injuries after being set upon by the animal, called Game, at her home in Cotton Walk, Broadfield, Crawley, West Sussex, on April 17. She was in the kitchen when the pet - six times her weight - entered the house from the back garden and started attacking her.
Two workmen nearby were alerted and tried in vain to rescue Zumer from its jaws but her injuries were too severe for her to survive.
Penelope Schofield, coroner of West Sussex, said that very little mention is made of the potential threat such dogs pose to young children. She accepted she may face criticism from dog lovers and organisations for raising doubts over whether they should be kept in a young family environment.
But she said the case highlighted a "real risk" to young children and that the death had left those close to Zumer "completely and utterly devastated".
Ms Schofield told the inquest at Horsham Magistrates' Court: "The little girl did not stand a chance. The dog was six times her weight and was acting instinctively. The dog, an American Bulldog, does not come under the Dangerous Dogs Act.
"Even today, the American and English Bulldog are listed on the internet as suitable for family pets. Very little is mentioned, if anything, to the potential threat to children. But this case shows that there is a real risk to young children and that this case is not uncommon.
"Many dog lovers and organisations will be critical of me to question whether it is safe for children to live in close proximity to these dogs. However, one function of my role is around prevention of future deaths."
Ms Schofield said she could not make any recommendations under the corner's rules as owning such dogs remained a "personal choice".
She added: "However, I'm aware that this case has attracted a lot of publicity and I, therefore, hope that the press will highlight this case and the danger of keeping such dogs in a family environment with young children."