A 29-year-old woman has been arrested by police for allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control after a three-year-old boy was mauled to death.
Dexter Neal was bitten at a property in Parker Way, Halstead, on Thursday evening.
He was taken to hospital following the incident at around 5.40pm but died from his injuries.
Dexter lived with his family on Ronald Road, a street adjacent to Parker Way, where he was believed to be visiting friends when he was fatally attacked.
Police officers and paramedics attended the scene where the woman was arrested for allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control injuring a person.
She remains in police custody.
The dog has been seized by police and placed in kennels following the attack. The breed of the dog has been identified as an American Bulldog.
Family liaison officers have been deployed to support the family
Neighbours have told of hearing screams as the alarm was raised.
Scott Howell, 19, who called the police after realising what had happened, said: “They have only had the dog about a week because we heard it barking.
“It was a very big dog with short white fur. It looked like a pitbull.
“I heard this terrible screaming and thought it was kids playing in the garden, but then I thought this is going on a bit too long.
“I went to my parents’ bedroom window facing the house and that is when I saw the man dragging the dog out.”
“That is when I thought I need to call the police. As I was describing what was happening to the police I saw a woman come out of the house and she was holding...(the) child in her arms.
“She quickly went back in the house. I could hear the man counting ‘one, two, three, four’ like they were doing CPR.”
“The whole while the woman was crying her eyes out sitting in front of the house.”
He said the couple who lived in the house had been there for about a year.
Halstead Parish Council chairman Shirley Diver said the town was in shock following the death.
“It’s very sad news. I think the whole of Halstead will be shocked and have sympathy for the family,” she said.
“To happen to such as young boy, he’s still a baby really. Our thoughts go with them.
“It’s very difficult as we don’t know the whole story and don’t know what happened, it’s just a terrible tragedy.
“This is something that happens somewhere else, not in our little town.”
Mrs Diver said she believed the atmosphere in the town would be sombre today after hearing the news.
“It’s a very close community. Everybody knows somebody and I would think if you don’t know the family you would recognise them as we are not a very big community here.
“All we can do is just support them as much as we can. The town is very sad today.”
MP for Halstead, James Cleverly, tweeted: “Such terrible, heart breaking news, I was briefed by @EssexPoliceUK earlier this morning. #Halstead”