A four-year-old mauled to death by a pet dog has been described by neighbours as a happy, sweet little girl.
The dog, believed to be a French bull mastiff, was the family's pet and was from a rescue home, according to neighbours.
The girl, named locally as Lexi, lived with her mother Jodi Hudson, who, according to reports, stabbed the dog as she tried in vain to save her daughter.
Police said the animal died shortly after the attack, which happened just after noon on Tuesday in Rowena Court in t Mountsorrell, between Loughborough and Leicester.
Leicestershire police said officers were called to a flat in the street at about 12.15pm following a report of a young girl being attacked by a dog.
A spokesman said the youngster was taken to the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham, where she died.
Glennis Goddard, who has lived in the quiet cul-de-sac of small blocks of flats for 27 years, said: "Their pet dog has attacked a little girl, Lexi. It's a terrible shock.She was a sweet little thing and used to run round here on a bike and knock on my windows. She used to play with our cats, outside. She wasn't very big, only a little thin thing."
Goddard said the dog had been no trouble at all previously and could not understand why it had apparently turned. She said she had been stroking the dog just two days ago after seeing it out with Hudson. She described the dog as being "a mastiff-type".
Arthur Nash, another neighbour, said: "Everybody is in shock at the moment with her dying. When I saw an ambulance pull up I thought it was an old lady on the court who had had a heart attack, and then the neighbour came up and said she had been killed by the dog. We're in shock.
Gloria Longmire, a secretary at Mountsorrel Methodist church, regularly walks her dogs up nearby Cross Lane. She said: "It's tragic, it is really tragic. I would say we do have a strong community here and people will be absolutely horrified, and it's dreadful that it's a family pet."
Paul Ryan, a friend of the family, said they had had the dog for only two months after picking it up from a local rescue centre. He said Hudson was "in hysterics" after the attack and she kept saying she had been told the dog was safe around children, the Daily Mirror reported.
Ryan said: "Apparently it suddenly turned on Lexi for no reason. She was in bed sleeping with her mum and it came in and just went mental. It grabbed Lexi and wouldn't let go. Jodi was screaming and trying to pull its head away but it wouldn't give in. In the end she had to use a knife to release its jaw. It must have been absolutely terrifying."
Melanie Wright, an East Midlands ambulance service spokesman, said a 999 call had been been received at 12.05pm reporting an injured child who had been attacked by a dog.
She said: "We responded by dispatching clinicians in two fast response cars, a double crewed ambulance and the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland air ambulance. We also informed Leicestershire police.
"The child was taken to the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham where, tragically, she has since died.
This was a very distressing 999 call for all concerned and we are providing support to our colleagues who responded."
It is not believed the dog was a breed listed under section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act.