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.
Animal psychologist Roger Mugford, who founded the UK-based Training and Behaviour Centre, which works with problem dogs, echoes that view.
"Everything is down to the owner," he told CNN. "Owners know if their dog is a hazard or is not friendly."
In a home with several dogs, the animals could be expected to behave as a group in a territorial way, he said. "So a stranger going into a home with five dogs would be seen as a threat, someone to be challenged or even attacked."
Once one dog attacks, the others are likely to join in, and self-defense becomes almost impossible, he added.
Assuming the worst
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.
But it's not the breed involved, but how the animal has been trained that counts, Mugford said, although bigger dogs can inflict more harm if they become aggressive.