A HEARTBROKEN family who lost their baby after she was mauled to death by their dog have paid tribute.
Mia O’Connell was killed after a terrier cross-bred dog attacked her as she slept in a Moses basket.
Devastated parents Ella Wood and Rhys O’Connell welcomed Mia into the world on February 22, 2021.
The Inquest heard that Emily Woods, the older sister of mum Ella, was staying overnight with her six-year old-son when tragedy struck.
Mia had been put to bed in her Moses basket by Ella and had settled very quickly.
Her mum went back downstairs to spend time with her sister and grandmother Noreen, relaxed as she knew she would hear the baby if she woke up.
A short time later, Emily went upstairs to check on her son, and Ella recalled: “She screamed my name.
“I had never heard her scream like that. I ran up the stairs and when I got to the landing I saw Emily holding Mia.
“She screamed ‘it was the dog, it was the dog’.
“I looked and saw the dog on the landing and his face was covered in blood. It was disgusting.”
She added: “Mia was in the middle of the room and the dog Red was behind her. He was just standing over her. There was blood all over his mouth.
“Mia was lying on her back. I grabbed a muslin cloth from the bed and put it to her head to try and stop the bleeding.”
The infant was rushed to Cork University Hospital by emergency services just after 1.am but was tragically pronounced dead a short time after arriving.
Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster said the autopsy showed Mia died from severe brain trauma due to fractures of the skull, and multiple lacerations to the head consistent with a dog attack.
Mr O’Connell asked if Mia would have experienced pain but the pathologist said she would have been rendered unconscious very quickly and “wouldn’t have felt anything.”
Ella was too heartbroken to attend the inquest but wrote a statement which explained a family member had rescued the dog before they welcomed it into their Clashmore, Co Waterford home.
She admitted: “I did not know what kind of breed it was. It was small, ugly and brown or red in colour. Barry called it Red.
“I did not like this dog from the beginning, there was something about it.
“It seemed very anxious and shaking. It lived outside and was not allowed into the house.
“I felt uncomfortable with that dog and a baby in the house”
Following the inquest, Heidi O’Connell, aunt to baby Mia, urged new parents to “think carefully” before allowing dogs around their children.
She told the Irish Mirror: “Think very carefully because at the end of the day, a dog is still an animal.
“You can’t predict what they are thinking. You just don’t know what they are going to do.
“I think it is best just to be very vigilant and very careful. You never expect this to happen but unfortunately it happened to us.
“The pain is unbearable. I think it will never go away. Our hearts are broken forever.
“We will never get her back. It is still like a nightmare. Full of smiles and full of giggles and she was taken away from us so abruptly and so tragically.”
She added: “This dog was a small terrier. He wasn’t a Pitbull or anything like that.
“There were some concerns but you would never in a million years think that something like this would happen to you or your family.”