Victim of terrifying dog attack in Stevenage park speaks out

Stevenage mum Rhiannon Van Der Griffin in bed in Stevenage Lister Hospital after dog attack

Rhiannon Van Der Griffin had to have surgery after being attacked by two dogs in Fairlands Valley Park, Stevenage - Credit: Courtesy of Rhiannon Van Der Griffin

A runner left needing emergency surgery after being attacked by two dogs in a park has spoken of her horrifying ordeal, as police work to identify the dogs' owner.

Rhiannon Van Der Griffin was jogging in Stevenage's Fairlands Valley Park last Tuesday when two Bolognese crosses - one white, one black - raced towards her.

She said: "The dog walker tried to pull them back to him, but the leads were too slack and he had no control over them.

"One of the dogs locked its jaws on my upper inner thigh, whilst the other bit and scratched at my shin and calf on my other leg. 

"I was knocked over, but quickly got up, afraid they were going to bite at my head or upper body.

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"The man kept telling the dogs to get off, but they took no notice. I’ll never forget that aggressive sound of dogs snarling.

"He then yanked the lead to pull them off me and one of the dogs ripped off a chunk of my calf.

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"As my leg poured with blood, all the man could say was sorry.

"I asked for his details, but he just walked the other way."

Rhiannon, who sustained five bite wounds, had to have surgery, stitches and intravenous antibiotics.

Close up of injuries sustained by Rhiannon Van Der Griffin when she was attacked by dogs in Stevenage Fairlands Valley Park

Rhiannon sustained injuries to both legs - Credit: Courtesy of Rhiannon Van Der Griffin

Police are appealing for information and witnesses in a bid to find the dogs' owner.

Rhiannon said: "I’m not after the dogs being put down. My biggest concern is if my daughter had been with me, or what could happen to a child toddling through the woods in my place.

"Fairlands is a popular place for runners and family walks, so I want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else, especially a child.

"I just want the owner to put in place measures - short leads, maybe muzzles or training."

White Bolognese cross dog

An example of the type of dogs that attacked Rhiannon - Bolognese crosses, one white and one black. Bolognese dogs are small and part of the Bichon family - Credit: Courtesy of Rhiannon Van Der Griffin

The attack happened at about 11.40am on April 20 near Monk's Wood. The dog walker is described as a tall, big built, white man with dark hair, aged 50 to 55.

PC Tom Piper, investigating, said: “This was a very frightening incident which has left the victim with some nasty injuries. The dogs do not appear to have been under control and we need to trace the owner as soon as possible.

“If you think you know the owner of the dogs, or have any other information, please contact me as soon as possible.”

Email or call 101, quoting crime reference 41/29386/21.

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