A three-year-old boy has been mauled to death by a pet dog in a horrifying attack in an Essex town.

The youngster, who hasn’t yet been named, was airlifted to hospital but tragically died from his injuries.

Shocked neighbours said they could hear “agonising screams for a good five minutes” coming from inside the house before the blood-soaked animal, thought to be a large white pitbull, emerged.

Chillingly, the dog was spotted sitting calmly outside the home just moments after the attack, with blood all over its paws and mouth.

Horrifying images from inside the house show games and clothes coated in blood, as a toy gun lies in a gory pool.

The young boy was attacked in a property in Parker Way, Halstead, Essex at 5.40pm yesterday.

A 29-year-old woman from Halstead has been arrested for allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control, injuring a person.

She remains in custody today and the dog has been seized by police and remains in kennels.

A woman remains in police custody today

Other heart-breaking photos from the scene show a toy car with drops of blood on it and a forensics officer investigating a concrete patch soaked in blood, alongside a camera.

Essex Police said the breed has yet to be established, but neighbours reported it being a big pitbull-type dog with short white hair.

Witnesses said they saw an air ambulance landing at the scene yesterday after the young boy was attacked and had stopped breathing.

Neighbour Phyllis Younger, 82, said she will forever be haunted by what she heard.

“It was like someone was in pain, definitely – agonising screams,” she said.

“To be honest I’m glad I didn’t see anything, I don’t think I would have been able to cope with that.

“The screaming went on for a good five minutes. It did seem to go on a bit and then suddenly it stopped.

“It’s all very sad and makes you feel horrible. In the middle of night it is all I could think about, as the trouble is now I know what that scream is, it has haunted me.

“I have seen a man walking a dog with a young child on his shoulders but I don’t know anything about him.”

Another neighbour described seeing a woman coming out of the house carrying a “bloody child” in her arms moments after the animal was dragged from the property with “its face was covered in blood”.

Scott Howell, 19, who called the police after realising what had happened, said: “They have only had the dog about a week because we heard it barking.

“It was a very big dog with short white fur. It looked like a pitbull.

“I heard this terrible screaming and thought it was kids playing in the garden, but then I thought ‘this is going on a bit too long

“I went to my parents’ bedroom window facing the house and that is when I saw the man dragging the dog out. It’s face was covered in blood.

“That is when I thought ‘I need to call the police’. As I was describing what was happening to the police I saw a woman come out of the house and she was holding a very bloody child in her arms.

“She quickly went back in the house. I could hear the man counting ‘one two three four’ like they were doing CPR

“The whole while the woman was crying her eyes out sitting in front of the house.

“The dog was taken away and put into a police van.

“I then heard the air ambulance come and that’s when I left to go shopping around 6.30pm.”

Scott said the couple had only lived at the council-owned property for around a year, where forensic officers were seen combing the scene for clues.

Children’s shoes were seen littered across the garden and an eight-year-old silver Vauxhall Vectra was parked on the drive.

The attack is believed to have taken place at the entrance of a wooden lean-to which sits to the right of the three bedroom property.

Neighbours saw paramedics desperately trying to resuscitate the youngster at the scene.

One neighbour told Essex Live: “My first knowledge of it was seeing the air ambulance trying to land then when I went to the kitchen a short while after, they were running up Parker Way.

“I didn’t see much other than the paramedics trying to resuscitate him. It is all so very tragic and sad for all concerned.

“I could see the paramedics resuscitating him in the front garden of the property but they were behind a blanket screen.

“It was then I realised it was a more serious incident.”

Another elderly neighbour said: “I don’t really know anything about the people who live there, but it’s terrible. They have only lived here six months.”

An ambulance spokesman said two rapid response vehicles, two officers, an ambulance crew and an air ambulance attended the scene.

The toddler was airlifted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge but sadly died.

A group of officers are standing guard in front of the semi-detatched house alongside forensics vans, police cars and an SUV in a side street off the road.

Forensics have started investigating the house

An East of England Ambulance Service spokesman said: “At the scene, a young child was treated for life-threatening injuries before being airlifted to hospital.”

The Conservative MP for Braintree constituency, which includes Halstead, James Cleverly, said “it’s an absolute blow to everybody in the town”.

“I’m a parent myself with two boys, and whenever you hear something like this happen it really hits you hard on a personal and human level,” he said.

“It is terrible news and a real shock to the town. Halstead has a very strong sense of community, people tend to know each other.

“There are lots of dogs in my constituency, and in Halstead, and thankfully incidents like this are very, very rare. It is a shock that this has happened at all, but it is so very sad when it is a young life that has been lost.

“I think everyone who heard this news will have a little knot in their stomach.

“There is a real temptation to try and get heavily involved right from the start but I’m going to let the police do their job and then I will make myself available to offer support if it is appropriate or desired.”

Lisa Smith, 43, who lives opposite the house, said: “The family were very private, they had not been here long.

“They kept themselves to themselves. The dad I would see coming and going but the others I would not recognise if I passed them.

“I had seen a little one but I don’t know how old he was.

“We are always out in the back garden and I have children.

“I just feel really sorry for them. I didn’t ever see a dog there.

“It’s just awful.”

Shirley Diver, the mayor of Halstead, added: “It’s dreadful news. I’ve had dogs all my life and I don’t think you can ever trust a dog 100% with any child.”

Halstead is a traditional market town located in the Braintree District of Essex.

It sits on the Essex-Suffolk border close to Colchester and Sudbury, in the Colne Valley.

Bill Lambert from the Kennel Club said: “The Kennel Club is extremely saddened by the tragic death of the young boy, and our thoughts and deepest condolences go to his family.

“Whilst we do not know the circumstances regarding the incident our advice to dog owners is to always ensure that children and dogs are supervised when together and that dogs are kept under proper control at all times.

“Any dog breed can be a wonderful pet or potentially dangerous in the wrong hands, which is why it is critical to have the correct training and socialisation.”

Last month, a teenager from Chelmsford, Essex, was bitten in the face as he tried to take a Snapchat selfie with a dog.

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was at his friend’s home on January 9 when he was attacked a Husky, German Shepherd and Bullmastiff cross called Digby.

Digby’s owner, Stuart Harris, 45, pleaded guilty to one count of being in charge of a dog dangerously out of control causing injury at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court .

The latest attack comes just days after a 52-year-old man was killed by a dog which had been returned to its owner despite concerns that it was dangerous.

David Ellam was out walking with his Yorkshire terrier close to his home in Huddersfield on Monday when he was attacked by another dog. He later died in hospital.

West Yorkshire Police said the animal had been seized by police following a visit by a dog warden in June, but had been returned to its owner on August 8 after it was determined that it was not a banned breed.

A dog that savaged David to death allegedly attacked four other people.

Angry neighbours claim the beast – a female Staffy-Labrador cross – was so ferocious­ council workers refused to cut the grass anywhere near it.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has said it will launch an investigation into Monday’s attac

Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman tweeted earlier today, when he heard about the toddler’s death: “Now is the right time to seriously consider a new system of dog licensing in our country.”

He said this morning that he has launched a “full enquiry” into the death of his constituent David.

Luciana Berger, MP for Liverpool Wavertree, tweeted: “Second dangerous dog death in a week. So, so sad. How many more people have to lose their lives for serious Government action to be taken?”