[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 4 January 2007, 12:00 GMT
Pit bulls seized in police raids
Ellie Lawrenson
Ellie was found bleeding to death

Eight pit bull terriers have been seized during police raids in St Helens and Widnes.

The raids followed the death of Ellie Lawrenson, five, who was mauled by a type of pit bull terrier at her grandmother's home on Monday.

Six of the dogs were taken from St Helens, the town where Ellie died. Police suspect they were being trained to take part in dog fighting.

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, Merseyside Police confirmed.

Speaking about the dogs, seized in separate, unrelated raids in St Helens and Cheshire on Thursday, Ch Supt Paul Forrester from Merseyside Police said they needed to establish what type of animals they are.

"They are young dogs, with no visible marks or scars consistent with being in a fight," he said.

"One did have cropped ears but that may be a status symbol for street culture.

"We don't read anything more into that at this stage, we were responding to a call to Crimestoppers."

Previous complaints

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.

Ellie Lawrenson on a beach
Ellie suffered head and neck injuries

Two previous complaints had been made about the pet, which belonged to Ellie's uncle.

Ellie was staying with her grandmother, Jackie Simpson, while her mother and father went out to celebrate the New Year.

Ms Simpson, 45, suffered arm injuries while trying to get the dog off Ellie. She has undergone surgery at Whiston Hospital.

Police have yet to speak to her about what happened.

The dog was shot dead by a police marksman following the attack.

Floral tributes were laid by members of Ellie's family on Tuesday at the house in which she died.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Some of the dogs seized in the Merseyside raids



SEE ALSO
Court threat for dog attack owner
03 Jan 07 |  Merseyside
Child attack dog 'pit bull breed'
02 Jan 07 |  Merseyside
Family devastated by girl's death
02 Jan 07 |  Merseyside
Girl killed by pit bull terrier
01 Jan 07 |  Merseyside
New Dangerous Dogs
05 Jun 06 |  Law in Action

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites




FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific