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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 January 2007, 15:12 GMT
Police boss calls for dog amnesty
Ellie Lawrenson
Ellie Lawrenson suffered severe head and neck injuries
The chief constable of Merseyside has called for an amnesty on dangerous dogs after a girl was fatally attacked.

Bernard Hogan-Howe said the killing of five-year-old Ellie Lawrenson in St Helens by a pit bull terrier-type breed had "shocked the nation".

The force seized eight dogs prohibited by the Dangerous Dogs Act in St Helens and Widnes on Thursday. Police suspect they were being trained for fighting.

Mr Hogan-Howe said: "Let's get these dogs off the streets."

He stressed however that, at this stage, dogs should not be taken to police stations or abandoned in the street.

Even a strong adult would have struggled to deal with this animal, let alone a small child
Chief Constable Bernard Hogan-Howe, Merseyside

Ellie was mauled by the dog, which was later destroyed, at her grandmother's home on Monday. She suffered severe head and neck injuries.

Her grandmother, Jackie Simpson, 45, was also injured and has undergone surgery. Police are waiting to speak to her about the attack.

A 23-year-old man has been questioned in connection with Ellie's death.

The man went voluntarily to a police station on Wednesday evening on "matters arising" from the attack that killed Ellie, but was not arrested.

Mr Hogan-Howe said an amnesty would allow owners, who feared their dogs may be banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act, to come forward without fear of arrest.

He said: "This horrific attack on a young girl has shocked everyone across the nation.

"Even a strong adult would have struggled to deal with this animal.

Pit bull terrier
Pit bull terriers are prohibited by the Dangerous Dogs Act

"We need to do all we possibly can to prevent this from happening again in the future.

"I'm calling for an amnesty of dangerous dogs in a bid to make our streets safer from the menace of these animals."

He said worried owners should currently contact their local dog warden to deal with their pets.

A joint statement from Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley and St Helens Councils said they were working with the police on the amnesty.

Post-mortem tests showed the dog that killed Ellie was among the breeds prohibited by the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Pit bulls are one of four breeds banned under the legislation.

Anyone convicted of owning a prohibited dog can face a 5,000 fine or six months in prison under the 1991 Act.

Some of the dogs seized in the Merseyside raids

Pit bulls seized in police raids
04 Jan 07 |  Merseyside
Court threat for dog attack owner
03 Jan 07 |  Merseyside
Child attack dog 'pit bull breed'
02 Jan 07 |  Merseyside
Girl killed by pit bull terrier
01 Jan 07 |  Merseyside
New Dangerous Dogs
05 Jun 06 |  Law in Action

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