Rescue dog drags tot from basket and mauls it to death, leaving parents broken

The family of a four-month old baby have had their "hearts broken forever" after their rescue dog pulled the tot from her Moses basket and mauled her to death.

Little Mia O'Connell was killed by the Terrier Dachshund cross, who was found standing alongside her body with blood on its mouth, an inquest heard.

Mia was born prematurely in February 2021 weighing just 4lb 9oz to parents Ella Wood and Rhys O'Connell, and remained in hospital for the first two weeks of her life.

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Cork Coroner's Court heard that the couple, from Waterford, Ireland, who had recently got engaged, were deeply in love and "ecstatic" at becoming parents.

In a statement read out at the hearing, Ella said that Mia was "a good little baby" who was in a routine of being bottle fed "every four hours or so" and was cherished by her grandparents too, with whom she also lived.

The tragedy unfolded on June 6, 2021, whilst Ella's sister, Emily was visiting the family.

That evening, Emily went upstairs to check on her six-year old son who was also present at the property, before making sure Mia was okay too.

To her horror, however, Emily found rescue dog Red standing over the baby, who was lying on the floor.

She recalled in court: "I could see Mia on the ground in the middle of the room, between the bed and the Moses basket. The dog was just standing behind her as he had already done it. There was blood all over the dog's mouth.

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"My first reaction was to scream out for Ella. I picked Mia up straight away. There was a pink and white muslin cloth on the single bed that I grabbed straight away and put it to the back of the head to stop the bleeding.

"Mia was wearing a vest and a a babygrow when I found her. I can't remember seeing any tears or rips on her clothes. I just remember the blood on her head and on the floor.

"When we brought Mia down to Noreen (her grandmother), Noreen started putting pressure on Mia's head and giving her CPR. We kept ringing and ringing 999 and telling them to hurry up as the child was bleeding from the head."

The Irish Mirror reported at the time that Gardai and paramedics arrived at the scene shortly after 1am and Mia was taken to hospital via ambulance.

Mum Ella, who said she didn't like the dog "from the beginning" because there was "just something about it" added: "I had never heard her scream like that before. I went flying up the stairs. When I got upstairs I could see Emily on the landing. Emily was holding my baby, my Mia in her arms.

"I could see blood down one side of Mia's face, on the back of her head and on her clothes. I could not fully see the back of Mia's head as Emily was holding a muslin cloth to her head. Emily said 'it was the dog, it was the dog'. I could see the dog's face was covered in blood. Noreen started doing CPR. Mia was still bleeding. I was in shock. I froze."

She continued: "It was not a tall dog. Just past my ankle. I love dogs and animals but I did not like this dog from the beginning. It wasn’t allowed inside but if a door was open it would try to come in and someone would shoo it out. I always felt uncomfortable with the dog and the baby in the house."

Grandmother Noreen, who is Rhys' mother told the inquest her husband had rehomed Red, but she wasn't comfortable with the hound as it had previously tried to snap at Mia when she first came home from hospital.

She added that she "hated the dog" and had had "big concerns" about it, but husband Barry insisted on keeping it.

A doctor said Mia died from a traumatic brain injury with haemorrhage and shock from scalp lacerations consistent with an animal attack.

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