'Happy, sweet girl' killed by dog
A four-year-old mauled to death by a pet dog has been described by neighbours as a happy, sweet little girl.
The dog, believed to be a French bull mastiff, was the family's pet and had been brought from a rescue home according to people who knew the family.
The animal died shortly after the attack which happened just after noon today in Rowena Court in the town of Mountsorrell, between Loughborough and Leicester, said police.
The little girl named locally as Lexi, lived with her mother Jodi Hudson in the flat and was described as always having a smile on her face by neighbours.
Leicestershire Police said officers were called to a flat in the street at about 12.15pm following a report of a young girl being attacked by a dog.
A spokesman said the youngster was taken to the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham, where she died.
Glennis Goddard, who has lived in the quiet cul-de-sac of small blocks of flats for 27 years, said: "Their pet dog has attacked a little girl, Lexi.
"It's a terrible shock.
"She was a sweet little thing and used to run round here on a bike and knock on my windows.
"She used to play with our cats, outside.
"She wasn't very big, only a little thin thing."
Ms Goddard said the dog had been no trouble at all previously and could not understand why it had apparently turned.
She said she had been stroking the dog just two days ago after seeing it out with Ms Hudson.
"Something must have snapped him," she said.
"I was stood talking to Jodi down across the lane and she was saying 'he's a lovely dog, I love him' and he let me stroke him.
"I can't understand why he went off like that."
Ms Goddard said the little girl and her mother would often be seen out together walking the dog, but that generally the animal was "kept inside".
Of Lexi, she said: "You've only got to look at her and she'd got a big smile on her face."
Ms Goddard's partner and carer Oliver Temperell said: "She had a little pink scooter and she'd go round and round the flats.
"She'd come up to our flat, tap on the window.
"She was very happy, everything was fun - as it is when you're a four-year-old."
Ms Goddard only knew something was wrong when she came home to see police putting cordon tape around her window.
"I opened the window to ask the policeman what had happened and he just said there'd been an incident, but he couldn't tell us anything else," she said.
She then called her neighbour who lives next to the house where the attack happened.
"She told me the dog's attacked the little girl and had gone to hospital."
Ms Goddard described the dog as being "a mastiff-type", but she hardly ever saw it out.
"It never came out she always kept it in.
"I didn't even know the name of the dog."
Arthur Nash, another neighbour, said: "Everybody is in shock at the moment with her dying.
"When I saw an ambulance pull up I thought it was an old lady on the court who had had a heart attack, and then the neighbour came up and said she had been killed by the dog. We're in shock.
"The family has a similar sort of thing to the dogs that have been going off lately, similar to the dangerous dogs.
"I'm not saying it was dangerous but it looked a similar dog."
Another neighbour, who asked not to be identified, added: "We've seen all the activity today and I've just had a phone call from one of the neighbours to say she's died.
"I always say hello when I pass, and the little girl used to play outside - she used to say hello when she was playing. It is just such a shock, such a sad shock."
Gloria Longmire, a secretary at Mountsorrel Methodist Church, regularly walks her dogs up nearby Cross Lane.
She said: "It's a shock, it's just a shock. "It's shook me, it's dreadful.
"It's tragic, it is really tragic. I would say we do have a strong community here and people will be absolutely horrified, and it's dreadful that it's a family pet."
Melanie Wright, East Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman, said a 999 call had been been received at 12.05pm reporting an injured child who had been attacked by a dog.
She said: "We responded by dispatching clinicians in two fast response cars, a double crewed ambulance and the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance. We also informed Leicestershire Police.
"The child was taken to the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham where, tragically, she has since died.
"This was a very distressing 999 call for all concerned and we are providing support to our colleagues who responded."
Meanwhile, the scene remains taped off with a police guard outside the address.
A force spokesman added: "Officers are carrying out inquiries at the scene.
"The inquiries are at a very early stage."
It is not believed the dog was a breed listed under Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act.