By Michelle Ainsworth and Mark Buttler, Herald Sun
A FOUR-YEAR-OLD girl has been mauled to death by a neighbour's pit bull cross that also savagely attacked two relatives
Ayen Chol died as her 30-year-old cousin fought desperately to fend off the vicious animal after it had wandered into the youngster's St Albans home in Lahy St at about 8pm last night, her distraught family said.
The woman suffered bites to her arms and hands during the terrifying struggle.
Another cousin, 5, suffered facial injuries in the horrific attack.
As Ayen's stunned mother Jaclin Apuk Awan wept in the street, shocked relative Daniel Atem said the family was in disbelief.
"She is a lovely little girl. She was very talkative," he said.
"It is for sure a terrible shock.
"It is something that you can't imagine but in the end maybe it is the will of God."
Jaclin and her three children, Ayen and two boys, were staying at their cousin's house because the home they were living in, also in St Albans, had burnt down in a fire last month.
The family of Sudanese refugees migrated to Australia in 2004 for a better life, living in Adelaide before shifting to Melbourne.
The two injured victims were rushed to the Sunshine Hospital in a stable condition.
Two advanced life support ambulance teams treated Ayen at the scene but could not revive her.
The dog belonged to a 30-year-old man who lives in the same street as the family.
A family friend believed the 30-year-old tried to beat off the dog with a table.
Last night, the animal was removed from the Lahy St property.
Supt Graham Kent, of Brimbank police, said it was unclear how the dog, which is expected to be put down, got inside the house.
"This is a really horrible tragedy and it will take some time for us to fully understand what's happened," Supt Kent said.
"By the time police arrived, the dog was back in the yard of the home where it comes from.
"It was a really chaotic scene and it was quite a distressing scene and I just want to pay tribute to the police and other emergency services officers who were confronted with this scene."
Supt Kent said the girl's mother did not witness the attack. The girl's father is in South Sudan.
Supt Kent said the owner of the dog was co-operating with police.
Pit bulls are a restricted breed in Victoria, with regulations meaning all must be desexed and registered with local councils.
In February a mum watched as her husband and children were mauled by an American pit bull and an American staffordshire terrier at Hoppers Crossing.
In December 2005 Zac Jasinski, 3, was attacked in a neighbour's backyard in Yallourn by an American pit bull, with the assault only stopping when the dog was axed to death.
Update August 17, 2011 - The following article is by Benjamin Preiss, Farah Forouque and Megan Levy, Yass Tribune:
Rogue dog kills infant girl, mauls two
A DOG has mauled a four-year-old girl to death and injured two of her relatives in a savage attack in Melbourne's west last night.
The dog, which police said was part pit bull terrier, went on the attack about 8pm at a house in Lahy Street, St Albans.
Ayen Chol was pronounced dead at the scene after ambulance officers arrived and tried to revive her.
Her five-year-old cousin suffered facial injuries and another cousin, aged 31, suffered severe lacerations to her arms and hands. Both cousins were taken by ambulance to Sunshine Hospital.
Paramedics arrived at the house within seven minutes of the triple-0 call to what team manager Brett Parker said was a very chaotic scene.
‘‘A four-year-old girl was in the house and had suffered extensive injuries,’’ Mr Parker said.
‘‘Paramedics tried to resuscitate the girl but unfortunately she died at the scene.’’
Police last night said they had spoken to the dog's owner, a 30-year-old man from a nearby house. Brimbank Superintendent Graham Kent said there was the potential for charges to be laid against him.
Superintendent Kent said the dog attacked the two children and the woman inside their house. He said the girl was dead by the time paramedics arrived at what was a distressing scene.
''This is a really horrible tragedy and it will take some time for us to fully understand what happened,'' he said.
The dog was back on its owner's property when police arrived. Shortly before midnight last night, council workers took the dog away in a van. Police said it was likely to be put down.
Earlier, about 30 people, including several children wrapped in blankets, gathered in the quiet suburban street, which had been cordoned off by police after the attack. Some of the people embraced each other while others sobbed into mobile phones. One woman was wailing hysterically.
A relative, Daniel Atem, said the dead girl was the youngest of three children and had two brothers aged nine and 12. He described her as ''a lovely little girl, very talkative and popular in kindergarten''.
Mr Atem said Ayen had been living with her brothers and her mother at their cousin's house at the time of the attack. Their previous house had burnt down last month.
The girl's father, Mawien Chol, was in South Sudan, having left Melbourne to join independence celebrations, he said.
The family is believed to have arrived in Australia in 2004 after spending three years in Egypt awaiting resettlement.
The injured woman and the five-year-old girl were described as in a stable condition in hospital.
Only last Saturday, police used capsicum spray to subdue a pit bull terrier that had savaged an elderly woman’s Scottish terrier in a Ballarat Street, then turned on two men who intervened.
The last reported fatality involving a dog attack in Victoria was in 2007, when a nine-week-old girl was dragged from her cot and mauled by a pet rottweiler. She died from severe head and neck wounds.
Penalties for an owner or person in control of a dog that attacks or bites any person depend on the seriousness of the attack and whether the dog had been declared to be dangerous before the attack began, according to Victoria Legal Aid.
In March last year, the owner of an unregistered Siberian husky that savaged a then 22-month-old girl was fined more than $6000.
In Victoria, according to a council survey taken about four years ago, there were said to be about 3300 dog attacks reported in one year.
Update August 18, 2011 - The following article is by Maris Beck, Megan Levy, David Rood and Nino Bucci, Merredin Wheatbelt Mercury:
Killer dog destroyed as neighbours reveal horror of attack in house
IT WAS a quiet night in a suburban street, with no hint of the mayhem to come.
Just before 8pm, Ayen Chol, four - an artistic, talkative girl, according to her mother - was watching television with her cousins when a pitbull terrier cross ran into the house and attacked her.
A cousin, Anglina Mayout, 31, suffered bite wounds to her hands and arms and her daughter, Nyadeng Goaer, 5, was bitten on the back of the head in the attack in the Melbourne suburb of St Albans on Wednesday night.
Ayen's mother, Jackline Anchito, said yesterday her daughter had tried to fight off the dog. ''She was a loving child, and a very clever child. She died as she was struggling for her life,'' she said.
Neighbours told of the horrific scene inside the house, including desperate attempts to revive the girl.
One neighbour said he was inside his house when he heard Ayen's mother screaming for help on the street.
He ran to the red brick home and saw Ayen lying on the floor with serious wounds to her head.
The neighbour, who did not want to be identified, tried to resuscitate her after receiving instructions over the phone from paramedics.
''It's something that I will have to live with for a long time,'' the distraught man said. ''We were just trying to revive her and we couldn't do anything about it.''
He said the owner of the dog had raced to the victim's home and dragged the animal home, before returning to the scene.
He said the owner was ''devastated'' after the attack.
The animal was destroyed by the council yesterday. The council said the dog was not registered, as all dogs are required to be, and had not had any complaints made about it.
The owner, a 30-year-old man, was questioned by police, who said he was co-operative.
Anisah Mama, who lives next door to the house where the dog lived, said she had been scared in the past for her two children, aged nine and 13.
''Actually this dog is quite aggressive,'' she said.
Ms Mama said she had never talked to the victim's family, but had seen them on the street and the children playing outside.
''I can say they are good people. They are fun-loving people,'' she said. ''It's very awful, very sad.''
The Victorian Premier, Ted Baillieu, said such attacks were unacceptable and the government would try and outlaw dangerous dogs as soon as possible.
''There cannot be a more tragic situation than to see a young child like this killed in this horrible, horrible way,'' he said.
Update August 21, 2011 - The following article is by Amelia Harris, Herald Sun:
Facebook tribute site for Ayen Chol ruined by racists
VULGAR photographs and racist posts have ruined a Facebook tribute site dedicated to the little girl mauled to death by a dog last week.
The State Government and police will try to erase the posts.
The two pages have 35,000 followers, several of whom have contacted Crimestoppers.
Some vile comments and images already have been removed. But others remain on the sites dedicated to four-year-old Ayen Chol.
One post on a page described the pit bull-cross linked to the girl's death last Wednesday as a legend.
The Herald Sun has chosen not to detail the contents of other posts that have not been removed.
One racist comment triggered the responses: "I hope you get mauled by a dog, so you know what she had to go through!!!" and "Go die in a hole ... u heartless waste of space".
Relative Daniel Atem said the family was not aware of the shocking photos and posts until contacted by the Herald Sun.
"It's bad. It's not good," he said.
It is the latest incident of tribute pages of people who have died being vandalised. Minister for Crime Prevention Andrew McIntosh said he was outraged the girl's memory had been attacked by cyber ghouls.
"These comments are despicable and offensive," Mr McIntosh said.
"The Victorian Coalition Government will seek advice on any action that may be taken against the cowards who have sought to defile the memory of Ayen Chol using the supposed anonymity of the internet."
A Victoria Police spokeswoman said police would work with Facebook to try to have any offensive content removed.
A Facebook spokeswoman said the site wanted to express its sympathies to Ayen's family and friends.
"We are also deeply saddened that a few individuals have shown a complete lack of respect for this tribute page," she said.
She encouraged page administrators to remove offensive content from the pages they have created and ban unwelcome visitors.