Family's fury as rottweiler that attacked schoolgirl returned to owner

The angry family of a little girl mauled by a rottweiler during a play date at her pal's house have demanded to know why the animal has not been put down.

Friday, 21st September 2018, 8:06 pm
Updated Friday, 21st September 2018, 8:11 pm

Rhian Muirhead, five, was left with severe facial injuries when the dog went for her while she was playing at her friend’s flat in Burnhead Grove, Gracemount.

She was rushed to the Sick Kids Hospital where she underwent emergency treatment and had her wounds stitched.

Now, four weeks after the incident, her furious family want to know why the animal has still not been put down.

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Rachel Muirhead with granddaughter Rhian, and right, the serious injuries inflicted on Rhian. Picture: TSPL
Rachel Muirhead with granddaughter Rhian, and right, the serious injuries inflicted on Rhian. Picture: TSPL

Rhian’s gandmother and carer Rachel Muirhead said, “Rhian was at her mum’s house visiting a neighbour in the next stair. Rhian and her friend were upstairs playing, the little girl broke her necklace and the dog owner turned her back for a minute. She heard a strange noise and turned round to see the dog had Rhian on the floor.

“Her wee head and face got bitten. Her head and face and polo shirt were full of blood.

“Now she has a scar right from her forehead down to her nose. They had to cut flesh away from her nose. It was pretty horrific to be honest.”

She added: “We were told by the police on the day that the dog would be destroyed but I have now learned that the owners have the dog back,” she said. “The dog is still alive. The police say it isn’t a threat to anyone. How could it not be a threat when it’s done that to my granddaughter?

Rhian Muirhead was mauled by a dog. Picture: contributed

“A family friend told us the owners plan to sell the dog. It’s ridiculous, this family also have a little girl the same age as my grandchild. It could turn on the other wee girl too,” she said.

“My granddaughter was told the dog was dead and not to worry. Then she came home from school and said, ‘Nana, that dog’s still alive. Someone told me at school, it’s come alive again.’ She’s been having nightmares and crying in her sleep.

“I don’t want her to be frightened of dogs, but you can’t wrap them in cotton wool. If her wee friend’s mother hadn’t been in the house when it happened... I hate to think what would’ve happened to Rhian.

“‘I want the dog put down,’ was what one of the owners told us the night of the attack.”

“I’m just raging the dog is still alive and it could attack a child again. It’s muzzled but it’s got to get its muzzle off to eat and it could get out into the garden where there are children playing,” she said.

Mrs Muirhead said the whole family is devastated by what’s happened and frustrated with the lack of clarity from the police. “The police now say the dog had been assessed and did not pose a danger to anyone. They said it was just a scratch. But my wee granddaughter has been attacked. The scar goes all the way down from her head to her nose, she’s going to be marked for life,” she said.

“It was clearly much more than a scratch. She was not OK, there were two open wounds, she was taken to surgery. She screamed through the night.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Police in Edinburgh attended at an address in Burnhead Grove on Tuesday 21st August after a five-year-old girl was bitten by a Rotweiller dog.

“The child was taken to the Sick Kids Hospital for treatment after sustaining injuries to her hand and head.

“Following investigation into this incident, it was established that no further police action was required. The owners of the dog decided to hand the animal to police, but were informed it was not listed as a dangerous dog and would not have to be surrendered on any legal grounds and were advised they could collect the dog prior to it being re-homed if they wished.

“They subsequently collected the dog from police care in early September.”