John-Paul Massey was killed by the animal which also attacked his grandmother, Helen Foulkes, as she tried to protect him in her home.
Neighbour Lawrence Crewe, 53, said he heard ‘hellish, blood-chilling’ barking before two shots rang out and the noise stopped. Police shot the dog dead.
Ms Foulkes, 63, suffered bites to her legs and body but has since been discharged from hospital.
Merseyside Police later admitted a city housing officer called them in February to complain about dog breeding at the terraced property in Liverpool.
A police operator told the caller it was ‘not a police matter’ and the complaint was never followed up. ‘Had the correct procedures been followed, a qualified officer would have gone to the house and looked into the matter,’ said Chief Supt Steve Ashton.
Officers are now investigating who owned the dog and whether it was an illegal breed.
Ms Foulkes was babysitting John-Paul and his 13-year-old brother, Craig, when the attack happened in the early hours of Monday. Craig was left traumatised but uninjured by the attack.
Resident Gillian Watson, 46, said there were ‘lots of dangerous-type dogs’ in the area. ‘You always see young lads with pitbulls roaming around,’ she added.
The victim was a popular pupil, said Michael Hennessey, head teacher of St Clare’s Catholic Primary School.
‘He was a friendly, cheerful little boy who was bright and enthusiastic in everything he did,’ he added.
by Fred Attewill