A "bubbly” five-year-old girl has suffered horrific facial injuries after a bully-type dog attacked her outside a North East shop - moments after she asked if she could stroke it. 

Young Farrah-Leigh Nichol was rushed to hospital with devastating injuries to her face following the incident outside a Nisa store in Norton, Stockton, at around 5pm on Saturday.

Two police vans and an ambulance were seen at the scene, with police confirming the dog had been seized.The Northern Echo:

The girl is having skin graft operations on her left cheek, with her mum and dad, Danielle Kemp and Alex Nichol, by her side in hospital. They have described online the family’s ordeal as a “horrific nightmare”.

The community has rallied behind the youngster with a crowdfunding page set up to pay for a trip to Disneyland for her and her family, once she has made a recovery. 

Read more: Child bitten by dog on Norton Road in Stockton

It is believed the "polite" youngster had asked permission before stroking the dog.

Kirsty Lavender, a family friend, said the youngster had asked permission before stroking the dog, which turned on her. 

She said: “Farrah-Leigh's beautiful, funny, bubbly, polite, just an all-round amazing child. We are all hoping this doesn’t take her personality and confidence away.

"She is in good spirits, but is going to have to have another operation tomorrow." 

The Northern Echo: Farrah-Leigh Nichol in hospital

Kirsty, 32, said it is believed the dog was a pocket bully.

She said Farrah-Leigh had been to the shop with her dad. They were on their way home when the incident happened. 

Kirsty said: “They were coming out of the shop and were going to cross the road at the traffic lights when Farrah-Leigh said "oh dad there's that dog" because the dog lives down the road from them. 

"She asked her dad if she could stroke him and her dad said 'we'll go and ask him' and they went and asked the man.

"He said 'yes of course'. Because it was nice when she stroked it on the head she stroked it underneath its chin as well and that is when it attacked. 

"The owner pulled the lead back and her dad scooped her up and ran home... So her sister Alexie-Leigh did see Farrah-Leig’s face, so I can’t imagine what she’s feeling. She’s with her nanna at the moment.”

Farrah-Leigh was taken to hospital where she had an operation and is due for a second one on Tuesday morning.

The Northern Echo:

Kirsty said: “She was making mum and dad food yesterday in the little play kitchen when she came back from her operation so fingers crossed she bounces back after this.” 

“She had one operation yesterday and she’s got to go down again Tuesday morning and then wait two weeks and have another operation. Her mum and dad are a little bit lost. We are doing everything we can to make it easier on the family.”

Kirsty added: "It has been awful, but Kirsty still has an absolutely gorgeous smile. She is so happy and is so bubbily. She is amazing."

In a video posted to Facebook by Alex, Farrah-Leigh is seen playing in a toy kitchen at the hospital following surgery, as her parents watch over her.

Alex can be heard saying: "I love you so much." In his post, he added: "HEART'S IN PAIN...made mine and mam's tea. What a little fighter you are baby girl."

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A spokesperson for Cleveland Police said: "Police were called to a report of 5-year-old girl who had been attacked by a dog outside of Nisa on Norton Road on Saturday at around 6:30pm.

"Officers attended the scene within minutes of the report being called in and provided medical assistance to the girl whilst waiting for the ambulance.

"The girl has suffered significant injuries to her face and is receiving treatment in hospital.

"The owner of the dog remained at the scene following the attack and co-operated with police. The dog has been seized."

A spokesperson for North East Ambulance Service said: “We were called at 6.25pm yesterday (August 12) to reports of an incident involving a dog bite in the Norton area of Stockton. We dispatched a paramedic crew who treated one patient with facial injuries before transporting them to hospital."

The fundraising drive on GoFundMe has raised £710. If you'd like to contribute you can do so by clicking here.