Dad's heartbreaking last message to 'little princess' Bella-Rae Birch, 1, killed by 'pit bull' as mum shares new pic

A DAD'S heartbreaking last public message to his "little princess" daughter has been revealed after she was killed in a "pit bull" attack at home.

Bella-Rae Birch, one, was mauled by the family's pet dog in St Helens, Merseyside, and died in hospital from her horrific injuries yesterday evening.

Her devastated family have paid tribute to "much-loved" Bella-Rae – while neighbours described the tragedy as they rushed to help save the little girl.

The tragic 17-month-old tot only celebrated her first birthday in October last year, with her parents and older brother.

And in a heartbreaking message, dad Ryan wished the toddler a happy first birthday – unknowing that it would tragically be her last.

Bella-Rae's dad wrote: "Happy birthday to my little princess, big one today. First ever birthday!!


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"My Bella boo. Have the best day gorgeous we love you too much."

And the family are now raising funds for her funeral, with her mum paying tribute to her "blue-eyed baby girl" as they released a new snap of Bella-Rae.

Mum Treysharn said: "On the 21st of March, we sadly lost our gorgeous blue-eyed baby girl, who was just one year of age, in a tragic sudden accident.

"We are now in a position where we need to raise funds towards the most beautiful send-off."

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Little Bella-Rae was pronounced dead after being attacked by the dog at the family's home.

The dog, believed to be a Staffordshire Bull Terrier or Pitbull Terrier, only joined the family a week ago, cops said.

One local rushed to the scene and gave the toddler CPR before emergency services arrived as others recalled the desperate screams of onlookers.

Disaster struck on Monday afternoon when the 17-month-old was savaged by the family's out-of-control dog.

Emergency services rushed to the home in Blackbrook, St Helens, just before 4pm yesterday.

The tot was found with serious injuries following the vicious dog attack – and little Bella-Rae was taken to hospital.

But the toddler tragically died of her injuries a short time later.

Speaking today, Bella-Rae's heartbroken family said: "As a family, we would like to thank the community for their support.

"We would ask that we are now allowed some space and time to try and come to terms with the tragic loss of our much-loved Bella-Rae.

"She will be sadly missed but never forgotten."

Police confirmed the hound was seized by police and then humanely destroyed following the savage attack.

An investigation is now underway to find out who the previous owner of the dog was.

And cops are looking into whether the dog was an illegal breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act (1991).

Eye-witnesses today described seeing the Staffordshire terrier-type dog being taken away from the house.

One eye-witness Linda-Birchall, 61, described seeing the “devastated” and “inconsolable” family shortly after the attack.

She said: “They were all in the square outside.

“They looked devastated and inconsolable. It’s such a terrible thing to happen.”

And a neighbour, who is set to train as a paramedic, said: "We pulled up from school and heard screaming.

"I just ran over to try to help and started CPR until the paramedics took over.


"The baby wasn’t well. I tried to help her. I started CPR, which I did for around 30 seconds. It was just myself."

Another neighbour Joanne Matthews, 53, described the girl, named locally as Bella-Rae Birch, as a “beautiful little girl”.

She said she’d seen an ambulance and police cars outside the family on Monday before the dog was brought out.

Joanne said: ”I saw them bring the dog out.

“I couldn't tell what breed it was but from the back it looked like a Staffordshire bull terrier or pitbull.

"She was such a beautiful little girl, toddling about.

"I'd see the family in passing, just to say hello, and they were always very pleasant."

Henry Tibay, 63, a retail worker, said: “It’s very shocking and I’m concerned about what’s happened.

"It's concerning as there are many children who are playing out on the street.”

One neighbour, who didn’t wish to be named, also said: “It was a stocky dog.

“It looked like a Staffie from the back. I saw the police bringing it out and putting it the back of a van.”

She added: “It’s a shame what’s happened. The little girl used to play football in the street, I can’t believe I won’t see her anymore."

One man, who looked visibly upset, said he’d be at the scene shortly after the girl was attacked.

He added: “They're a lovely family and the parents doted on their two children. They were always with them."

Two police officers remained outside the address today where Bella-Rae lived with her mum and dad, named locally as Treysharn Bates and Ryan Birch.

An outpouring of grief on the quiet estate continued as neighbours gathered to leave flowers and tributes.

Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said she got home from the shops at about 4.30pm, when the area was busy with police.

She said: "It is usually very quiet here and safe for children, but when you hear something like this has happened it is so distressing."

One resident, who did not wish to be named, said: "It's just devastating what has happened.

"This is a normal quiet street, and the children would play in the street. The little girl, a toddler, was always about.

"They were a very pleasant family, with two kids."

On Tuesday morning, officers were stationed outside the house, which was cordoned off with police tape, and a forensics officer was seen going inside the property.

At a press conference outside the home today, Merseyside Police Superintendent Steve Brizell said: "Bella-Rae has lost her life in the most unimaginably terrible circumstances and our thoughts are first and foremost with the family and the wider community at this devastating time.  

"Our specialist family liaison officers are providing the family of Bella- Rae with support, and officers will remain in the area in the coming days to provide further reassurance and support for the wider community. 

"At this stage we understand the family dog they bought just a week earlier has attacked Bella-Rae inside the family home. 


"Bella-Rae was taken by ambulance to hospital by paramedics but despite the best efforts of police officers at the scene and the paramedics and doctors, sadly Bella-Rae died as a result of her injuries yesterday afternoon.

"It’s left the family and the community grieving and in complete shock. 

"During the incident, the dog was handed over to police at the address and has been humanely destroyed.

"Detailed investigations are continuing into this tragic event, forensic examines to determine the dog’s breed are ongoing and we are working to identify the previous owners of the dog so we can establish its history. 

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"We want to continue to support the family and the local community, and officers will remain at the scene on Bidston Avenue during the day today."

Anyone with any information is asked to contact police via the social media desk @MerPolCC or 'Merseyside Police Contact Centre' on Facebook, with reference 22000196837.

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