Ava-Jayne death: RSPCA had been called to dog attack home three times

Lancashire Telegraph: Baby Ava-Jayne Baby Ava-Jayne

A DOG that lived in the house where 11-month-old baby Ava-Jayne Corless was mauled to death had previously killed a cat, it has been revealed.

The RSPCA, which attended the incident, was also called on two other occasions to issues involving dogs from the house.

Now an MP is calling on the charity to look at its files to see if there were any ‘missed opportunities’.

Baby Ava-Jayne was killed on Monday night when an illegal pit bull-type dog attacked her in a house in Emily Street, Blackburn.

Her mother Chloe King, 20, and her boyfriend Lee Wright, 26, were downstairs at the time of the incident.

They were later arrested on suspicion of child neglect and manslaughter and have since been released on police bail pending further inquiries.

Ava-Jayne had been asleep upstairs when an eight-stone pit bull terrier, which was an illegal breed, savaged her.

She was later pronounced dead in hospital.

A spokeswoman for the RSPCA said the organisation was first called to the property in Emily Street two years ago after a cat was killed in the garden.

The incident was described as an accident by the animal charity as there was no suggestion the owner had done anything wrong.

An investigation was again launched in October 2012 when the RSPCA received reports of concerns for the health of a litter of puppies being kept at the semi-detached home.

An officer attended and the dogs were all found to be under veterinary care and receiving the treatment they required, a spokeswoman for the organisation said.

Two puppies were signed over to the RSPCA and were found new homes.

The officer investigating did note that there was a ‘bull breed-type’ dog also at the property, but did not consider it to be a banned breed.

It is believed the dog was the same one which killed Ava-Jayne as it had the same name, Snoop.

Tests have since shown that Snoop, who was destroyed at the scene on Monday night, was an illegal pit bull-type.

Emily Street resident Faisal Shahzad said he had also reported the dog to the RSPCA and police when it broke a hole in his fence.

Neighbour Ian Prescott said Snoop was so large that he came up to his waist.

He said: “It was huge. I saw Lee taking him for a walk, but really the dog was taking him for a walk.

“I would not taken him for a walk, I would have put a saddle on him.”

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said the charity should now take another look at its notes from the incidents to see if there might have been an opportunity to prevent Ava-Jayne’s death.

He said: “We need to make sure that opportunities were not missed.

“We need to make sure that everything is done that can be done to prevent future tragedies.

“I do think at a time like this we should look back and ask ‘was there more we could have possibly done?’.”

Mr Stephenson added that when new legislation comes into force in 2016 making it illegal for a dog not to be microchipped, RSPCA should scan every dog in a household its officers visit as a matter of course to make sure they are all registered.

Blackburn MP Jack Straw said: “There are certainly going to be a lot of questions asked about whether this dog should have been brought to the attention of the police at an earlier stage.”

A spokeswoman for the RSPCA said investigations had been carried out at the time of the incidents.

She said the officer had not considered any of the dogs to be banned breeds and that the cases were now resolved.

The spokeswoman said: "We are extremely saddened to hear about this incident and our thoughts are with the family of the baby girl involved.

“Two years ago the RSPCA was contacted about a cat which had been attacked and died after going into a garden at this address.

“There was no suggestion that the incident was anything other than an accident and no further action was taken.

"Later that year the RSPCA was again contacted regarding concerns for the health of a litter of puppies at the address.

"There were no children living at the address at that time.

“The officer saw a male bull breed type dog at the scene but did not suspect the dog she saw of being a banned breed.”

She added that the bull breed type dog seen by the officer matched the description and name of the dog that killed the baby.

The spokeswoman said: "The RSPCA very much welcomes compulsory microchipping of all dogs and strongly believes it is something all responsible dog owners should do.

"We do not have staff qualified to formally identify any dogs prohibited under the Dangerous Dogs Act, nor is that our remit.

"The RSPCA is concerned with animal welfare, enforcement of the Dangerous Dogs Act is the statutory duty of the police.

"We are liaising with the police as part of their investigation."

A police investigation into the death of Ava-Jayne has been launched.

A spokesman said inquiries into the dog’s history were ongoing.

He said: “We continue to try to piece together the history of the dog and any dealings we may have had with it, or other dogs at the address in the past.”

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