A pretty six-year-old girl who suffered horrific injuries after being mauled by an illegal dangerous dog has begun her road to recovery.
Little Chanelle Sommerville was bitten seven times on her legs and arms by a frenzied American Bulldog, after it escaped from its owner in Neasden, in March.
She was left in a life-threatening condition and was forced to have reconstructive surgery to repair her maimed body.
The brave youngster has been having vivid nightmares ever since the traumatic experience and has refused to go near any type of dog, but on Thursday last week she faced her fears.
Chanelle visited The Mayhew Animal Home, in Kensal Green to meet a therapy dog - a specially trained, kind-natured and docile animal, which is used to close contact with humans.
The move was orchestrated by members of BARK (Brent Action for Responsible K9's), a multi-agency partnership set up last year to tackle the irresponsible use of dogs.
Under the supervision of police officers and experts from the RSPCA, Chanelle, who will need to undergo plastic surgery later on in life, interacted with the dog and started the long process of repairing the damage done by the savage attack.
PC Simon Underwood, who runs BARK in Brent, said: "As a project we felt that it was imperative to facilitate some of the work concerning Chanelle's rehabilitation, as before the attack she was a happy go lucky 5 year old with a love of dogs.
"By using the therapy dogs we are trying to go some way in reinstating that love she once had for our canine friends."
Chanelle was out walking with her mother on a public foot path, alongside the A406, when the American Bulldog, which are bred in the US to kill livestock, escaped from its owner and attacked her.
She was taken to Central Middlesex hospital and admitted to a specialist pediatric reconstruction unit at the Royal Free Hospital, where she remained in a serious condition for 10 days.
The dog was destroyed after the incident.
PC Underwood added: "The reputation of most dogs are being tarnished in general and particular breed types are receiving bad press due to the irresponsible few who lack the knowledge and understanding of what it takes to be a responsible owner.
"Ultimately the dog always ends up as a victim in these cases and I urge people to seek the advice of expert agencies such as the RSPCA, The Mayhew Animal Home and The Kennel Club."
A 27 year-old man arrested under section three of The Dangerous Dogs Act shortly after the attack and was subsequently bailed to return on Friday (13).
BARK is made up by representatives from Brent borough police, the RSPCA, The Mayhew Centre, Brent Council and Brent Housing Partnership.