Pictured: 11st Leonburger named Shiva at the centre dog walker tragedy

Pictured: The 11st Leonburger named Shiva at the centre of the beauty spot horror that saw a female dog walker, 28, ‘mauled to death by dogs’

  • Picture has emerged of Shiva, a large Leonberger whose owner says is ‘missing’
  • Shiva was among eight hounds being walked by the victim, 28, on Thursday 
  • Police rounded up loose dogs after the tragedy, but their fate remains unknown

Nobody out walking that day in this verdant corner of England will forget the woman’s screams.

Punchy cries at first, giving way to something more prolonged, a high-pitched screech rising above the muffled roar of the M25 in the valley below. Then, quite suddenly, whimpering and finally silence.

That was appalling enough. Unerasable. ‘It will live with me for ever,’ said an elderly man who came to lay flowers yesterday in tribute to the as-yet unidentified victim – mauled to death by the dogs she was hired to walk.

Yesterday, as a picture emerged of one of the dogs being walked by the woman – a large Leonberger called Shiva – exactly how the horror unfolded remains unclear.

EXCLUSIVE FIRST PICTURE: Shiva, an 11st Leonburger, was among eight hounds with the victim. Shiva’s owner says her dog is now ‘missing’

PROBE: A police officer at the scene of the tragedy, where a forensics tent had been erected

The man still doesn’t know how close he was to the scene of Thursday’s attack, but he agreed with his friend that this burst of violence – freakish and discordant – must have been like something from a horror film.

Few witnessed what happened. A 60-year-old woman on horseback saw something of it as she approached the brow of a hill at 2.30pm on the North Downs Way – a bridle path at Gravelly Hill, near Caterham, Surrey – flanked by a grass bank and bushes and trees. Surrounded by dogs pulling frenziedly at her limbs, a blonde woman wearing a beige jacket, who we would later learn was 28, was on the ground, sitting but never quite managing to stand up. She never did.

‘When we saw her she was about 50ft away,’ the horsewoman told The Mail on Sunday.

‘She was swamped by at least four medium-sized dogs, maybe more, attacking her, pulling her at arms and sides and she was screaming and shouting.’ But perhaps surprisingly, there was no barking, a chilling detail that adds another layer to the horror.

PAYING RESPECTS: A woman lays flowers yesterday where the dog mauling took place

Among the dogs being walked was a couple of dachshunds, (left) a cockapoo (right) – the nation’s favourite breed during lockdown – a collie and Shiva (File photos)

Sources tell of horrifying attack after female dog walker, 28, ‘was mauled to death by dogs’: Click here to read more 

One man on scene said: ‘The area is in the middle of the countryside surrounded by big detached houses’ 

The horsewoman, who believes she was the last person to see the victim alive, added: ‘The dogs must have been on the lead because they were in such close proximity.

‘I don’t know why they kicked off the way they did. Maybe a couple were fighting with each other and she tried to intervene, and she got in the way and they saw red and just kept going.

‘When she saw us she shouted: “Turn back, turn back!”.

‘I cannot see how she could have got up. Once you’re down and the dogs are attacking like that, how you could get up? I imagine that is where the police found her.’

How could such a thing happen? By all accounts, this wasn’t the work of so-called devil dogs. 

Moreover, this was, in theory at least, a largely benign bunch of hounds. Among them a couple of dachshunds, a cockapoo – the nation’s favourite breed during lockdown – a collie and Shiva.

When much younger, Shiva appeared in a BBC2 programme about unruly puppies who chew through furniture. 

True, the five-year-old Leonberger is now huge – about 11st – but these dogs are not normally aggressive. 

Another woman was hospitalised and eight dogs were recovered at the scene after police responded following the attack at 2.45pm Thursday

Police were called, arriving half an hour after the initial attack in several cars carrying armed officers and paramedics 

Following the attack on Thursday, Shiva’s owner Delia Lewis, a psychic and life coach, posted online that her dog was ‘missing’.

Police officers rounded up any loose dogs following the tragedy. All are now in the hands of the police, their fate unknown, as they are assessed by canine specialists.

‘I don’t know what is going to happen,’ said one of the owners last night. ‘I know the victim who died – she’s a friend – so I don’t want to say more.’ Yesterday the beauty spot was back to normal.

A black forensic police tent, marking the scene of the tragedy, was removed and the cordon was lifted in the morning, allowing sombre local residents to come and lay flowers at the scene. Dog walkers nodded greetings to each other. Some stopped to chat. There were no outward signs of Thursday’s horror save a discarded sky-blue glove, worn by one of the paramedics and left beside the bridleway.

Since the attack there have been questions over why she was walking so many dogs. Eight is simply too great a number to control, say many experts.

Others note that dog walkers can typically charge between £15 and £20 an hour per dog.

One frequent visitor to the beauty spot often saw the victim and said she often struggled to control the dogs in her care.

Dog bites are on the increase. In the past 20 years hospital admissions for dog-related injuries doubled in England to about 8,000 per year. It is a problem made worse by the impulse-buying of dogs during Covid.

Police at the remote spot Gravelly Hill in Caterham, Surrey, where a 28-year-old woman was mauled to death by the dogs she was walking

Horrified sources have recalled the sheer terror of the dog walker, 28, who tried to keep onlookers away even as the animals – who were ‘like a pack of wolves’ – attacked her in the remote beauty spot Gravelly Hill in Caterham at 2.45pm on Thursday 

It is estimated that the dog population has increased 44 per cent from nine million to 13 million since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Animal experts have warned that the boom of pandemic puppy buying has led to a generation of pets poorly socialised and trained, less accustomed to being around other dogs. Yet it is inescapably the case that in the midst of Thursday’s outrage, when she faced unimaginable horror, the victim managed to warn the horsewoman to effectively save herself and go back. A selfless act by any standards.

‘Everything was so frantic,’ said the horsewoman. ‘It was just horrible. Two of the dogs, which were obviously loose, came running towards us. One looked like a very well-groomed cream cockapoo and the other was black.

‘My horse just turned round and bolted down the bank. I was leaning forward and eventually I fell off near a gentleman walking his dog.

‘My ribs and my hip on my right sight are very bruised. We were going to trot up the hill as we thought she [the victim] may have got up and walked on. But as we started walking, you could hear her screaming, and I said, “We’re not going up there with horses, you don’t know what will happen”.’

Police at the remote spot Gravelly Hill in Caterham, Surrey, where a 28-year-old woman was mauled to death by the dogs she was walking

Pictured: Police at the scene of the tragedy during the initial investigation 

She later learned that another woman – walking a small dog on a lead – was attacked by one of the victim’s dogs. Presumably she was alarmed by the pack of animals before her, because she picked up her own. ‘One of the dogs jumped up at her,’ said a source.

‘It bit through her jacket and she was badly wounded all down her side. She was crying and said: “I’ve just been attacked by a dog.” She lifted her jacket to show her wounds and then she went to hospital.’ The furore over the attack is unlikely to abate any time soon. There were calls yesterday for new nationwide guideline on rules for dog walkers to help prevent further fatal attacks.

Shaun Hesmondhalgh, one of the country’s leading dangerous dog experts, has warned that there are no entry requirements for dog walkers. He said the Government should look at limiting the number of dogs one dog walker can take out.

Currently, each council is responsible for deciding rules around dog walking; including how many dogs one person can handle at once. In the Surrey district of Tandridge, where this incident took place, walkers must apply for an annual licence costing £156.50 and are allowed to walk only six dogs at once.

But Mr Hesmondhalgh said: ‘This is a tragic incident, for which the facts are yet to be established.

‘I can only imagine what the family are going through right now and my thoughts and feelings are with them.

‘However, it is now time for the Government to look at introducing a nationwide framework for dog walkers and not leave individual councils to decide their own rules.’

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