An 11-month-old girl has died after being mauled by a dog at a home in Blackburn, Lancashire Police said today.

The child, mauled to death in Blackburn by an "American pitbull-type" dog, has been named by Lancashire Police as Ava Jayne Marie Corless.

Her father today paid tribute to his "beautiful little girl."

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Ava-Jayne Corless, aged 11 months, has been mauled to death by a pet dog

The little girl was rushed to Royal Blackburn Hospital around 11pm last night from the house in Emily Street, but doctors were unable to save her, and she died from her injuries.

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The victim's mother and stepfather, who were downstairs at the time of the attack, have been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

The dog was seized by police and has now been destroyed.

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The dad of an 11-month-old girl mauled to death by a dog has paid tribute to his 'adorable little girl'

Ava-Jayne's father Dean Corless today revealed his devastation, saying: "She was the most beautiful and adorable little girl, she was just the best. She was my whole world.

"I will miss her every single day, I just don't know what to do now. It is just so tragic. I have my family around me now, but we are all devastated."

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The child died after being mauled by a pet dog at a house in Emily Street in Blackburn

Chief Superintendent Chris Bithell said: "This is an absolutely horrific incident in which a baby girl has lost her life and I would like to take this opportunity to express my own personal sympathy to the wider family of baby Ava.

"The baby was upstairs in a bed in one of the front bedrooms and the two people who are currently in custody, they were downstairs when the attack took place.

"The dog is believed to be an American pit bull type, it has been destroyed and tests will be carried out today to establish the exact breed of the dog and inquiries into the history of the animal."

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Dean Corless, 24, with his daughter

Today, the street, a cul-de-sac in the Daisyfield area of Blackburn, was cordoned off as police continued gathering evidence at the property, a modern two-storey house.

Local Kyle Perry said the dog involved was a bull mastiff and another neighbour claimed that the owner, whom police have not yet named, bred the dogs to sell puppies.

"I have seen it - it's pretty big. I heard police are looking for the other one," Mr Perry said.
"It chased my mum's cat across the road.

"It's not right, some poor little baby girl has lost her life..."

Mr Perry said he was first alerted to the incident at around 11pm as police rushed to the house.

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Ava-Jayne is believed to have been killed as her mum Chloe King visited the home of her new boyfriend


"All I could see was police, sirens, I just thought it was a normal day in Daisyfield. Next I knew, armed response, they all marched in through that door."

A woman neighbour, who did not want to give her name, said: "She was a lovely little girl, always smiling, always happy, just like her mum.

"It's sickened me to my stomach. It's not the dog's fault - it's the owner's fault."

She said the child's mother is called Chloe, but did not know her second name.

She added that the owner of the dog was not the father of the dead child and he and the mother were "just friends".

Further details are expected from police in a press conference at Greenbank police station in Blackburn at 11.30am.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents postal workers, renewed its call for tougher dog laws following the incident.

National officer Dave Joyce said: "This is another tragic loss of life and demonstrates the out of control situation that we have in the UK with irresponsible dog ownership.

"There have been 23 deaths from dog attacks in the UK, the majority of which have been young children and four of these have occurred since 2005. Worryingly, there has been a sharp increase in recent years.

"Dog control laws in England and Wales are rightly being strengthened later this year. Current arrangements are simply not good enough and the punishments do not fit the crimes. Irresponsible dog ownership can result in death, serious injury and distress and must be tackled.

"The new laws will have to be rigorous as there is a need to take a hard line with offenders and deliver tougher sentences. The number of deaths and serious injuries from dog attacks is spiralling and society cannot allow this to continue.

"Along with tough law enforcement we need a national dog ownership education and training programme for dog owners supported by all stakeholders and led by the Government."

Over 26,000 postal workers have been attacked and injured by dogs in the last six years.