'We have lost our adorable angel'

21 April 2010, 14:24 | Updated: 22 April 2010, 11:07

The family of an 18-month-old girl mauled to death in West Sussex by her uncle's dog spoke of their anguish at the loss of an ``adorable, beautiful angel''.

Zumer Ahmed was attacked by the animal, believed to be an American bulldog, at her home in Cotton Walk, Broadfield, Crawley, on Saturday. She was in the kitchen with her grandmother, mother and three-year-old sister
when the dog entered the house from the garden.

Zumer's uncle, Urfan Ahmed, 32, was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and released on police bail until July 15 pending further inquiries.

On Wednesday night, in a statement issued through Sussex Police, Zumer's family said nothing would ever replace her laughter and love.

``Our cherished baby Zumer was taken from us in tragic circumstances. Nothing will ever replace the laughter and love she brought into our home. We are struggling to come to terms with the gap her passing has left.

``We deeply feel, in sorrow and shock, we have lost our adorable, beautiful angel. This horrifying accident has devastated our lives. At this sad moment we pray for our Zumer to rest in peace and we ask Allah for strength to tolerate the pain. Amen. We are sure you understand the overwhelming sense of grief our family is experiencing. We respectfully ask that you continue to allow us time and space to mourn Zumer's passing.''

Workmen from a nearby property managed to rescue Zumer from the dog's jaws but she suffered serious facial injuries. Plumber Saqib Nazir, 32, spoke earlier this week of his desperate bid to rescue the child by forcing the dog away using
a towel, pipe bender and spirit level. He said he cradled the girl for 15 minutes until an ambulance arrived. She was taken to the East Surrey Hospital in Redhill, Surrey, where she was pronounced dead.

The child's uncle, who lives at the address, was not in the house at the time of the attack but arrived shortly afterwards and was arrested.

Confirmation was being sought by detectives on the breed of the animal, originally believed to be a mastiff but now thought to be an American bulldog. It is not a breed banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act, police said.