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The killing of a four-year-old girl by a family dog has left a small Ontario community in shock.

"Devastating is the word," said Cheryl Forsythe, a resident of Woodland Beach, a cottage community in the southern Georgian Bay area. "We've never seen anything like it."

The girl, who was reportedly attacked by a rottweiler that belonged to her father, was found in a field late yesterday afternoon, surrounded by blood-stained clothing.

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The attack took place near the rented farmhouse where the family has lived since last summer.

OPP Constable Greg Chinn said the mauling was vicious.

"There was blood spattered on the ground. It was obviously a horrific attack."

He said the girl was in the field without adult supervision.

"It appeared that the father was not present."

The child was rushed to Huronia District Hospital in Midland, where she was pronounced dead. The rottweiler believed responsible for the attack was locked inside the house by officials, while a second family dog was kept behind the residence.

The father arrived at the hospital last night, but police were withholding the girl's name until they can contact her mother.

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Police in the community on Georgian Bay, near Collingwood, roped off the area where the attack took place, just metres from the road. They have interviewed two witnesses but they were told not to speak to the media.

"This is still very much in the investigation stage," Constable Chinn said. "It will be a while before we have a lot of answers."

A coroner's investigation has begun, but as of last night, police said they had not yet interviewed the girl's father. Constable Chinn refused to comment on whether police were considering laying charges.

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