A four-year-old girl has died after being mauled by a dog in Milton Keynes, police believe.
Police and paramedics rushed to a home in the city’s Netherfield area on Tuesday after reports that a dog had attacked a child in the property’s back garden.
But it was quickly confirmed that the child had died at the scene, Thames Valley Police said.
While the dog has been destroyed, no arrests have been made in connection with the incident, the force said.
“This is an absolutely tragic incident, in which we believe that a child has been killed after being attacked by a dog,” said Superintendent Matt Bullivant.
“Clearly, we are in the very early stages of an investigation, and it would be wrong and unhelpful to speculate as to the exact circumstances of this incident at this point.
“However, in order to ensure public safety, a decision was made earlier this evening to destroy the dog involved, and this has been done humanely.
“I understand how much of an impact this will have on the community and on the wider public, and people can expect to see a large police presence in the area this evening and beyond while our investigation continues.
“I would like to reassure people that there is no reason to believe there is any danger to the wider public at this time.”
The young girl’s family are being supported by specialist officers, and police were still at the property in Broadlands on Tuesday night at the time of a statement issued by Thames Valley Police – four hours after emergency services were first alerted.
No one else was injured in the incident, police said.
The girl’s death came hours after an inquest was told that 28-year-old Natasha Johnston died of “multiple penetrating bites” to her neck after being mauled by eight dogs she was walking in a Surrey beauty spot on 12 January.
While dog attacks are rare given the millions of canines owned in the UK, they appear to have risen significantly over the past two decades, with 3,395 people hospitalised by such incidents in 2002, compared with 8,389 in 2018.
At least 32 people have been killed by dogs in the decade to 2022, while official figures suggest that just less than half that number were killed by dogs in the 10 years prior to the introduction of 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act.
Owners of dogs that injure someone can be sent to prison for up to five years or fined, or both.
Supt Bullivant added: “Anyone with concerns should feel free to approach our officers and ask questions, but I urge people not to speculate about the circumstances, especially on social media platforms.
“I also understand that this case is likely to attract attention from the media. With this in mind, I would like to ask that the privacy of the family involved is respected at this very difficult time. It is impossible to imagine what they must be going through at the moment.
“We will provide further updates when we are in a position to do so.”
Anyone with information they believe could help the police investigation is asked to call 101, quoting reference number 20230131-1546, make a report online, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.