A TODDLER was ripped apart “like a piece of meat” by five huge dogs that burst through the fence as she enjoyed a family picnic in the back garden.
Little Ella was left with life-changing injuries when neighbour Andrew McGowan’s American bully dogs began mauling her.
American bully dogs, which are similar to pit bull terriers, are not a banned breed – with males reaching up to 11 stone in weight and 23 inches long.
Ella’s aunt Sandra McKevitt watched in horror as the dogs tore into her niece on May 7, 2016, in Dingle, Liverpool.
Recalling the attack, she told BBC show Defenders UK: “We were having a nice little picnic eating these cakes. I was aware of the dogs but they weren’t barking, they just seemed, if anything a bit restless.
“The next minute there was this big bang, through the fence I just saw this big dog’s head.
“It was growling and it looked so vicious. I could see its eyes were wild and I thought ‘we are going to have to move quick’.”
‘TEARING AWAY AT HER’
Sandra realised she was trapped at the bottom of the garden with Ella and quickly told her other niece and nephew to take refuge in the house and shut the door.
As they ran away, the five dogs began savaging Ella, now aged five, as Sandra frantically tried to pull them off her.
She said: “I picked her up, I was punching, I was screaming for help, Ella was screaming for her mum and her dad.
“I was trying to make my way to the door and they were just jumping up and they were just tearing away at her like she was just a piece of meat.
“I felt as if they were trying to get me out of the way to get to her. They bit her on the leg, the cheek. They seemed to be trying to pull me down.
“She was losing consciousness and I was thinking ‘please god, just let us get out of here, how are we going to get out?’.”
‘CHEEK WAS HANGING OFF’
Horrified neighbours rushed into the garden and attempted to distract the dogs – allowing Sandra to scoop Ella in her arms and escape.
She said she is still haunted by the “screams of her mum and dad” as they rushed over to see if she was alright.
Ella was airlifted to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, where she remained for three-and-a-half weeks and had to undergo 12 hours of surgery.
Sandra said: “Her face just didn’t look anything like her, swollen, stitches everywhere, your heart just broke.
“Her cheek was hanging off, you could see her scalp, there were cuts near her eye. She was just bleeding everywhere. She had a white top on and it was red.
“I honestly thought she wouldn’t survive. Your heart just broke looking at her, no one should have to go through anything like that.”
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Brave Ella battled through the pain but has been left with permanent scarring and loss of feeling in her lips and mouth.
Owner Andrew McGowan was jailed for 18 months and banned from keeping dogs for 12 years after he admitted the animals had been dangerously out of control.
Five dogs and six puppies were seized after the attack, two of which were put down.