A FOUR-year-old girl suffered a nasty facial injury after being bitten by a dog outside a busy supermarket.

An eye-witness said five police cars raced to Tesco Express, near the Kursaal, in Southchurch Avenue, Southend, on Saturday, January 5 following reports that a child had received injuries to her face.

The dog involved was a Labrador, a breed not commonly associated with mauling humans or being aggressive.

A woman from Southend, who was in the store at the time but did not want to be named, said the dog was tied up outside while the owner was inside doing some shopping.

She didn’t witness the attack, but rushed outside when she saw and heard the commotion.

“The mum was crying and covered in blood, there was lots of it,” she said.

“I saw a cut on her face, it was quite bad.

“Someone said the mum’s back was turned for just a second and in that time the girl grabbed the dog by its neck.

“If someone’s going to do that it will bite back, it’s not the sort of dog to do that normally though.

“The owner was really upset and was crying as well.”

The little girl, from Southend, was taken to Chelmsford’s Broomfield Hospital, which has a specialist plastic surgery unit, by police because ambulance crews could not confirm when they could arrive, it has been claimed.

An East of England Ambulance spokeswoman said: “We were called to the girl near Tesco and a rapid response vehicle was dispatched, but we were stood down by the police.”

She would not comment on the claims that police on scene were told an ambulance would take longer than they expected.

An Essex Police spokeswoman said she had no further information about the severity of girl’s injuries or treatment she received at hospital, but confirmed she received cuts to her face.

Officers are continuing to investigate the incident and are working with the owner of the dog, who was still at the scene when the police arrived.

Any witnesses are urged to contact PC Daniel Hedges at Southend police station on 101.