Woman, 28, mauled to death by pack of dogs ‘was killed by her own American Bully XL’


A woman who was mauled to death by the eight animals she was walking in a Surrey park is believed to have been killed by her own American Bully XL.

Witnesses to the horrific attack said the dogs turned into a pack of ‘wolves’ when they attacked Natasha Johnston, 28, at the Gravelly Hill beauty spot in Caterham on January 12.

She died from multiple bites to the neck, including one that perforated her jugular vein, an inquest heard. Eight dogs were seized at the scene of the frenzied attack.

Police confirmed Ms Johnston’s dog was the only animal to have been destroyed, which they believe to be an American Bully XL. 

They are continuing to hold five other dogs following a vet’s forensic report, but two seized dachshunds were returned to their owner last month.

Natasha Johnston  died from multiple bites to the neck

Natasha Johnston  died from multiple bites to the neck

Police at the scene in Gravelly Hill in Caterham, Surrey, where dogs fatally attacked Ms Johnston

Police at the scene in Gravelly Hill in Caterham, Surrey, where dogs fatally attacked Ms Johnston 

A Surrey Police spokesman said: ‘We have now received a forensic veterinary report and this has been shared with the Surrey Coroner.

‘As a result of this, two dogs (both Dachshunds) were returned to their owner at the end of April and one dog, which belonged to the deceased, has been put to sleep. 

‘The five other dogs remain in private kennels and we are speaking with their owners regarding recommendations from the report.

‘The breed of dog that was put to sleep is believed to be an American Bully XL.

‘Besides the update on the status of the seized dogs we do not have any further comments or updates on this investigation, as it has now passed to the coroner’s office and will be covered as part of the inquest.’

One of the dogs was an 11stone Leonberger that appeared on a BBC TV show about problem puppies – and was renamed Shiva because it was so unruly.

The pet appeared with her then owner Delia Lewis, on BBC Two’s 10 Puppies and Us in 2017. Originally called Maple, she was filmed running around professional psychic Ms Lewis’ home and going to the toilet on the carpet. 

Ms Lewis posted on social media after the incident that the dog, whose name she had to change due to her unruly behaviour, was ‘one of the ones missing’.

She added: ‘She’s a Leonberger, please if you have any information please tell me where to go or what to do.’ 

When much younger, Shiva appeared in a BBC2 programme, 10 Puppies and Us, about unruly puppies who chew through furniture. 

Ms Lewis, a telephone psychic living in Croydon at the time of the 2017 show, originally decided to call her dog Maple before deciding it was ‘far too sweet a name for this dog’.

Shiva, an 11-st Leonburger, was among eight dogs with the victim - and was a troublesome puppy who chewed anything she could get her paws on

Shiva, an 11st Leonburger, was among eight hounds with the victim – and was a troublesome puppy who chewed anything she could get her paws on

Delia Lewis, a psychic and crystal healer, posted online that her dog is 'missing' in the aftermath of the incident

Delia Lewis, a psychic and crystal healer, posted online that her dog is ‘missing’ in the aftermath of the incident

Ms Lewis initially had problems housetraining young Shiva, who used to go to the toilet wherever she wanted

Ms Lewis initially had problems housetraining young Shiva, who used to go to the toilet wherever she wanted

She instead renamed the pooch Shiva, which is a name shared by the Hindu god of destruction.

Ms Lewis said on the programme: ‘I thought Maple is far too sweet a name for this dog.

Shiva was described as chewing anything she could get her paws on, from the carpet to the bins. 

But in 2020, Shiva was described by her vet in Wimbledon as a ‘giant girl’ with ‘the sweetest nature ever’. 

An inquest into Ms Johnston’s death is due to begin on June 29. 

After the horrific attack, friends paid tribute to ‘bubbly, beautiful’ Ms Johnston who loved dogs and was experienced in handling them. 

Jo Butchers, 34, a friend of Ms Johnston from her childhood home of Ryde on the Isle of Wight, said ‘Long countryside walks with the dogs were her thing.

‘She did a lot of dog walking here, not as a professional but with her own dogs and those of friends.

‘Then she moved away and that became her job in London. She grew up with dogs, so she always loved them.’

At the time, the local Tandridge council said she was not licensed to walk dogs in the district.

But Ms Butchers insisted to the Mail on Sunday that Ms Johnston, who lived in Croydon, South London, was an experienced professional who had got her licence. 

She added that when she heard the news of her friend’s death she didn’t believe it ‘because she was great with the dogs’.

Another friend told the MoS: ‘She was definitely not new to dogs – the complete opposite.

The 28-year-old dog walker died after a frenzied attack by the canines at the Gravelly Hill in Caterham, Surrey on January 12

The 28-year-old dog walker died after a frenzied attack by the canines at the Gravelly Hill in Caterham, Surrey

Another woman was hospitalised and eight dogs were recovered at the scene after police responded following the attack at 2.45pm on January 12

Another woman was hospitalised and eight dogs were recovered at the scene after police responded following the attack at 2.45pm on January 12

‘She always loved them and absolutely adored her own, talking about them all the time.

‘She seemed really happy being a dog walker in London, she used to put videos on her Snapchat of the dogs. So it’s ironic the way that she was killed, bless her.’

Before moving to London, Ms Johnston lived in Ryde with her brother and two dogs.

The mother of one childhood friend said: ‘We’re absolutely devastated. She was so caring, a beautiful girl inside and out.

‘She was always bubbly when she used to come to meet my girl. They used to go out together and enjoy their lives as young teenagers.

‘She’s going to be sorely missed. I know there will be a lot of people going up to her funeral.’

Police barricade the road close to the scene where Ms Johnston was mauled to death by a pack of dogs

Police barricade the road close to the scene where Ms Johnston was mauled to death by a pack of dogs

A woman laying flowers where the dog mauling took place as she pays her respects

A woman lays flowers where the dog mauling took place as she pays her respects to the 28-year-old victim

The attack raised questions about differing council rules for the number of dogs one person can walk at a time. Most councils vary between four and six dogs. 

A source close to the case told the Daily Mail: ‘She just had too many dogs. You cannot be in control with that amount of dogs. If something happens, it’s like having seven small wolves attacking you.

‘The dogs were in a frenzy, acting as a pack, and going for whatever was in front of them.’

One of the dogs had moments earlier attacked and bitten another woman who was walking her own dog – and she fled, injured.

It is thought Ms Johnston may then have fallen under attack from the seven or eight dogs she was walking.

When two people on horseback stumbled upon the graphic scene, she shouted: ‘Go back, go back’.

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

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

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 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.

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!’.’



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