THE mum of a 16-month-old baby girl who was bitten on the face by a dog fears her daughter will be scarred for life and the animal should be destroyed immediately.
Little Lexi McCaffery was treated in hospital for the bite and a piece of the animal's tooth was removed from her cheek after the German shepherd/Japanese Akita cross attacked last Tuesday.
Lexi has been left with four puncture holes to her face, a split lip and burst vein after the animal snapped when she attempted to cuddle it.
Mum Gemma Garside, 20, said they were visiting a friend when it happened.
She said: "All of a sudden it went for her face, I screamed and it let go. Her face was pouring with blood, it just wouldn't stop bleeding.
Lexi narrowly escaped having skin grafts and is now recovering back at the family's home in Thornpark Road, St Austell.
But Miss Garside, whose four-month-old daughter Lily was asleep on the sofa during the incident, said it is not the first time the rescue dog has struck and is calling for it to be put down.
The dog, known as Thi, is said to have previously snapped at another baby's face; that time it failed to pierce the baby's skin.
Miss Garside said: "I can't believe this has happened. I am going out of my head over it.
"I think she will be scarred for life, although they may fade as she gets older.
"Next time it will be worse, first time no blood, second time blood, what will happen next?
"That dog needs to be put down, we will go through all the right channels but I will not stop until it is. It's a tragedy waiting to happen.
"I haven't slept and I keep having flashbacks," she added.
A page Justice for Lexi, has been set up on social networking website Facebook and has amassed hundreds of supporters.
Friend Sam Hooper, 30, had been looking after Thi at her house in Dobell Road because Thi's owner is not allowed pets in her accommodation.
Miss Hooper said after the first incident she didn't want to look after the dog and has branded last week's attack "unforgiveable".
"I look at her (Lexi's) face and I feel so bad. I feel guilty, like it's my fault."
Miss Garside and her friends say they fear that the owner's four-month-old baby could also be at risk.
But Thi's owner, who has asked not to be named, said: "She was beaten up as a puppy and I rescued her. She is a lovely dog but she doesn't like to be disturbed when she's asleep."
She was not there at the time of the incident and says she has made people aware Thi can snap when she feels threatened.
"I am a mum and of course I understand that it's upsetting and if I had seen it happen, I would have had it (Thi) put down.
"The dog has been rehomed and, as far as I'm concerned, that should be the end of the matter. But they will not let it go."
A Cornwall and Devon Police spokesman said inquiries are continuing with officers still trying to establish if the dog has been destroyed. If not, the owner will be interviewed and magistrates will decide if the animal should be destroyed.