A baby boy has died and another young child has been seriously injured after being bitten by a dog, believed to be a Staffordshire Bull terrier.
Emergency services were called to a property in Colchester, Essex, at around 3.10pm on Thursday to reports that three people were injured.
The two children and a woman were taken to hospital for treatment but the baby boy, who is believed to be four-months-old, was pronounced dead.
The other young boy, believed to be 22-months-old, suffered injuries which have been described as life-changing.
The toddler is said to have been moved to a “specialist unit” after being taken to Colchester General Hospital following the dog attack on Thursday.
The woman has been treated for minor injuries.
Essex Police Chief Inspector Elliot Judge said: “This is a tragic incident that Essex Police is investigating.
“Specially trained officers are providing support to the family at this difficult time.
“We will not be making any further statement at this time and would ask the media to respect the family’s privacy.”
The force confirmed that the dog was removed from the property following the incident.
Onlookers say up to six police cars, including a dog unit vehicle, were called to the scene, alongside paramedics.
An East of England Ambulance Service Trust spokesman said: “We received a call at 3.08pm to reports of a serious incident in Colchester.
“We dispatched three ambulances, a rapid response vehicle, an ambulance officer, and an air ambulance from the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance Trust.
“At the scene two young children were treated by crews, one for life-threatening injuries, and the other for life-changing injuries.
“Both have been taken Colchester General Hospital via land ambulance in serious conditions.”
Passing schoolchildren are said to have witnessed the aftermath of the incident.
The man who owns the semi-detached, £300,000 property where the dog attack happened, today refused to comment on what had happened.
John Ferdinand, 36, who runs an IT company and lives with his wife Clare, 31, believed to be a serving police officer said: “There’s no chance (of us commenting) at the moment. We will get in touch when we want to.”
It is not known whether Pc Clare Ferdinand, 31, was at the address at the the time the dog – believed to a Staffordshire Bull terrier type – mauled two children and a woman.
Essex Police refused to confirm that Mrs Ferdinand is employed by them though friends of the victims’ family insisted she was.
It’s not yet clear whether the couple are related to the victims of Thursday’s dog attack but it is thought that they have two young children.
A close neighbour recalled hearing a “loud bark” on the day of the horrific attack.
Thelma Monk, 79, was painting in her home, just a few doors down from the house where the attack happened, at around 3pm.
She said: “All I heard was a dog’s loud barking. I haven’t seen anybody come out of that house. I didn’t hear any shouting.”
Neighbour Dave Thompson said police backed into the drive to “recover the animal” which he described as a dark brown “Staffordshire bull breed”.
“It was alive and not aggressive when they brought it out of the house and put it into the back of the van.
“It was quite big and I think it was a cross breed.
“Everyone had been pushed back by police and a woman came out of the house first.”
Another close neighbour reports seeing the couple walking their dog, a type of Staffordshire bull terrier, in the local area.
He said: “They have only been living there up to a year. We rarely saw them. They kept themselves to themselves. They had a nice party the weekend after the August Bank Holiday.
“They had a dog. It was some sort of Staffy, pitbull cross. I only saw it twice, they did not walk it around here very often.”
Speaking after the incident on Thursday afternoon, one neighbour, who wanted to be known only as Rachel, said: “It’s quite scary especially when it’s on your doorstep.
“I feel really sorry and my heart goes out to the people involved in it.”
Will Quince, Conservative MP for Colchester said: “So sad to hear of the death of a baby in a dog attack in Colchester.
“My thoughts and prayers are with his brother now at Colchester Hospital
“This is a family area at the top of Harwich Road, lots of people with young families.
“It has a huge impact, nobody likes thinking about the tragic death of a child, especially a baby.
“It’s something that shouldn’t happen.
“People in Colchester will be mourning the sad loss of this young boy.”
The mauling comes just two months after three-year-old Dexter Neal was killed when he was attacked by an American pitbull type dog while playing at a friend’s house 14 miles from Colchester in Halstead, Essex.
A police cordon remained in place at the semi-detached £300,000 brick property today (Fri) as investigations continued.
A close family member, speaking from a house in Hornchurch, Essex, refused to comment on the dog attack.
He was too distressed to talk about the matter but a dog could be heard barking inside the property.
Meanwhile, shocked neighbours described the aftermath of the dog attack.
Reverend Justin Lunniss who lives on Tara Close just yards away, said he saw a staffy-type dog being led away.
He said: “I was in the car going to work exactly when the police where there and I saw the animal being led out, it was brown and I think it was a staff.
“I didn’t see any blood but a dog handler was leading it away with a safety pole with a loop at the end.
“The dog had been barking the whole time it was inside the building but when it came out it stopped.
“I don”t know if they gave it a sedative but all of a sudden it just stopped and they led it out of the house.”
Neighbours also described seeing emergency services taking the injured children and a woman from the home.
One resident who did not want to be named said: “I didn’t see the older child being taken away but I saw the baby, there were loads of paramedics around them, then the woman was brought out.
“She was absolutely distraught, she had to be held up by two people on either side, she was walking very slowly, it was just so terrible.”
According to residents the family are not believed to have lived at the £300,000 property for very long, it last changed hands in December 2015.
Today (Friday) two cars remained on the driveway and a police patrol car is stationed outside while police tape covers the front and back entrances.