Toddler attacked ‘like a piece of meat’
WARNING: Graphic content.
The family of a toddler mauled by five dogs during a backyard picnic gone wrong has recalled the horrifying moment the little girl was set upon "like a piece of meat".
Speaking on the recently aired BBC show Defenders UK, Sandra McKevitt said she was still haunted by the screams of her niece Ella, who was left with life-changing injuries after the attack in 2016.
"Your heart just broke looking at her, no one should have to go through anything like that," she said.
Ms McKevitt said the family had been enjoying a picnic in their back garden in Dingle, Liverpool, when the neighbour's five American bully dogs burst through the fence.
The dogs, which are similar to pit bull terriers, are not a banned breed in the UK.
"There was this big bang. Through the fence I just saw this big dog's head. It was growling and it looked so vicious. I could see its eyes were wild and I thought 'we are going to have to move quick'," she said.
Ms McKevitt, who was trapped at the back of the garden with Ella, yelled for the others to run inside the house. But as they ran inside, the dogs locked on to Ella.
"I picked her up, I was punching, I was screaming for help, Ella was screaming for her mum and her dad," she recalled.
"I was trying to make my way to the door and they were just jumping up and they were just tearing away at her like she was just a piece of meat.
"They bit her on the leg, the cheek. They seemed to be trying to pull me down. She was losing consciousness and I was thinking 'please God, just let us get out of here. How are we going to get out?'."
Ella, who is now five, was hospitalised for three-and-a-half weeks following the attack, and had to undergo 12 hours of surgery.
"Her face just didn't look anything like her, swollen, stitches everywhere, your heart just broke … I honestly thought she wouldn't survive" Ms McKevitt said.
Meanwhile Andrew McGowan, who owned the American bully dogs, was jailed for 18 months and banned from keeping dogs for 12 years.
Today Ella is back to her happy self, despite permanent scarring and loss of feeling in her lips and mouth.
Her story comes as a mother-of-three was mauled to death by her two pet American bulldogs in Widnes, Cheshire on Wednesday.
Elayne Stanley, 44, was arguing with her daughter when the dogs turned on her.
"By the time the paramedics came there was nothing they could do, she had bled out," neighbour Bev Hall told The Sun.
Residents who lived in the area said the dogs were not banned breeds and had not been a problem in the past.
Local police said an investigation was underway.
In July, Melbourne man Leo Biancofiore, 61, was killed after being mauled by a dog while his wife was left with serious injuries.
The American staffordshire terrier was the pet of his son, Mark Biancofiore, 29.
The family was devastated by the attack and said the dog had never previously been aggressive. Mr Biancofiore's wife, Donata, was labelled a "hero" for trying to fight off the animal.