A mum fought in vain to save her four-year-old daughter Lexi Hudson from being mauled to death by their pet dog, it has emerged.
Jodi Hudson stabbed to death the huge French bull mastiff-cross to try to get it to release its bite on her daughter Lexi as it 'shook her like a rag doll'.
She then ran outside covered in blood and appealed to neighbours for help.
Lexi was taken to hospital but she died from her injuries.
The dog was the family's pet and had been brought from a rescue home just two months earlier, according to neighbours.
Police said the animal died shortly after the attack which happened just after noon yesterday in Rowena Court in the town of Mountsorrell, between Loughborough and Leicester.
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.
Glennis Goddard, who has lived in the quiet cul-de-sac of small blocks of flats for 27 years, said: "It's a terrible shock. Lexi 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'.
Paul Ryan, a friend of the family, said they had the dog for only two months after picking it up from a local rescue centre. He said that Ms Hudson was 'in hysterics' after the attack and she kept saying that she had been told the dog was safe around children.
Mr Ryan said: "Apparently it suddenly turned on Lexi for no reason. She was in bed sleeping with her mum and it came in and just went mental. It grabbed Lexi and wouldn't let go.
"Jodi was screaming and trying to pull its head away but it wouldn't give in. In the end she had to use a knife to release its jaw. It must have been absolutely terrifying."