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Vicious ‘20-minute’ dog fight on Hampstead Heath left two men hurt

17:00 06 February 2012

Roland Reho and dogs relaxing on the Heath

Roland Reho and dogs relaxing on the Heath

Archant

Two men were injured breaking up a brutal dog fight on Hampstead Heath, which has prompted renewed calls for restrictions on the number of dogs handled by professional walkers.

A Staffordshire Bull Terrier from a dog walking group attacked an Akita last Monday (January 30) at 9.45am.

Eye witnesses said the Staffordshire Bull Terrier had to be beaten for 20 minutes before it would unclamp its jaws.

The owner of the Akita was left with a suspected fractured hand and heart palpitations after the incident and the dog walker’s hand was “streaming blood”, witnesses claimed.

An ambulance was called and both needed treatment at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead.

A 35-year-old woman from Muswell Hill, who was out walking her whippet when she saw the attack, said: “There was blood everywhere, human blood, dog blood. I’ve never seen so much.

“They were punching the dog for 20 minutes. All you could hear was screaming.”

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier was one of a large pack of 10 dogs being walked by Roland Reho, a well-known dog walker on Hampstead Heath.

It was off the lead at the time it attacked the Akita, despite the fact that both dogs were familiar with each other as they have been walked on the Heath at similar times for more than a year.

Five witnesses watched the fracas take place from Boudicea’s Mound near the men’s pond.

“The dogs were circling,” said the 35-year-old from Muswell Hill. “They go into a pack mentality, and I was afraid for my dog.”

The owner of the Akita and the dog walker said they did not need medical treatment but witnesses called police and an ambulance.

Concerns have now been raised about dog safety on the Heath and the possibility of repeat attacks.

The 35-year-old eyewitness from Muswell Hill called for a cap on the number of dogs one person can walk at one time, which is not currently controlled by Heath authorities.

But dog walker Mr Reho, 27, of UVP-H Dog Training, said the dog attack had lasted only two minutes and injuries were minimal.

Mr Reho, who has trained dogs for eight years and in 2008 won the obedience class at Crufts with his pet dog, said restricting dog numbers on the Heath was illogical.

“There’s no difference between two dogs or 10 dogs,” he said. “The same thing could happen. I think actually the bigger number makes them more tolerant and sociable.”

Both dogs were given tetanus injections and needed no further treatment.

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