By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
LONDON (CNN) — The death of a 14-year-old girl who was apparently fatally savaged by a pack of dogs at a friend’s home has prompted horror in Britain.
Greater Manchester Police formally identified the girl Wednesday as Jade Anderson.
She was found dead at a house in Atherton, near Wigan in northwest England, on Tuesday afternoon after police were called about reports of an unconscious girl and “out-of-control” dogs.
Armed officers were confronted by a pack of dogs, described as “aggressive.” Four were killed, and a fifth, which was shut up elsewhere in the house, was contained.
More clues about what sparked the attack on Jade may be revealed by an autopsy Wednesday, police said.
The schoolgirl was alone at the house, which she was visiting, when she was apparently mauled, police said.
The dogs’ remains will be examined as part of the investigation, which will also look at the breeds involved, police said.
UK newspaper reports suggest that an American bulldog, two Staffordshire bull terriers and a bull mastiff attacked the teenager. None of those breeds are banned in Britain.
Police Superintendent Mark Kenny said it was “a deeply distressing incident for everyone involved” and expressed condolences to Jade’s family.
“They are understandably devastated by what has happened, as are Jade’s circle of friends,” he said in a police statement.
He told reporters later Wednesday that reports of the dogs attacking after Jade brought a meat pie into the house were speculation, but acknowledged that the attack came at lunchtime, after she’d left and returned.
“This afternoon we sadly lost one of our students, Jade Anderson. Our thoughts are with her parents and family,” the Twitter account for her high school said.
Dealing with dangerous dogs
A report by the UK parliament’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee last month said seven people, five of them children, had been killed by dogs in homes in Britain since 2007.
The cost to the National Health Service of treating severe dog attack injuries is more than 3 million pounds ($4.5 million) a year, it said.
“Current dangerous dogs laws have comprehensively failed to tackle irresponsible dog ownership,” the report said, adding that the latest government proposals are “woefully inadequate.”
Kenny, the police superintendent, said he was not aware that any formal complaints had been made against the dogs involved in Tuesday’s attack.
Humane societies point out that it is often the actions of owners, rather than the particular breed, that make a dog dangerous.
Some breeds are banned in Britain under the Dangerous Dogs Act. They include the pit bull terrier, the Japanese Tosa, the Dogo Argentino and the Fila Braziliero, as well as dogs that may be crossbreeds but share the characteristics of these breeds.
The debate over dangerous dogs is heated in the United States, where the Humane Society has been campaigning against a Maryland Court of Appeals ruling in August that pit bulls are “inherently dangerous.”
Under the ruling, dog owners and their landlords are responsible for any injuries caused by pit bulls.
The Humane Society says it’s wrong to discriminate by breed.
“Singling out a particular breed or type of dog has repeatedly been proven to be ineffective at curbing dog bites because breed alone is not predictive of whether a dog may pose a danger,” its website says.
“A dog’s propensity to bite is a product of several factors primarily under the owner’s control, including early socialization, whether the dog is spayed or neutered and whether the dog is isolated or chained.”