‘She was beautiful inside and out’: First photos are released of dog walker, 28, who was mauled to death by pack of pets in leafy Surrey town as friends pay tribute to her
- Natasha Johnston died after the dogs attacked her in Caterham on January 12
- Friends have paid tribute to a ‘bubbly, beautiful’ woman who loved dogs
- Read: Dog walker died from ‘multiple bites to the neck’ and wound to jugular vein
Larking around and taking selfies with a friend, this is Natasha Johnston, the dog walker who was mauled to death in Surrey last month.
The pictures come as those close to the 28-year-old paid tribute to a ‘bubbly, beautiful’ woman 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, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘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.’
Ms Johnston died from multiple bites to the neck, including one that perforated her jugular vein, after the animals attacked her in Caterham on January 12. An inquest is due to begin on June 29.
Natasha Johnston (left) died from multiple bites to the neck. Pictured with friend Tia Rose Martin
Shiva the Leonberger (pictured) was one of the dogs that mauled Natasha to death
At the time, the local Tandridge council said she was not licensed to walk dogs in the district. But Ms Butchers insisted 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. 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.’
Ms Butchers insisted that Ms Johnston (pictured), who lived in Croydon, South London, was an experienced professional who had got her licence
The pictures come as those close to the 28-year-old paid tribute to a ‘bubbly, beautiful’ woman who loved dogs and was experienced in handling them
READ MORE HERE: ‘She loved animals and dogs loved her’: Friend of woman mauled to death by pack of animals she was walking reveals 28-year-old ‘owned a golden doodle or a labradoodle, a Staffy and had taken in a rescue dog’
She attended state school and formed a tight group of friends. While finishing college Ms Johnston started working part-time as a carer, which became a full-time job until she left the island around 2017. The role at the Bluebird Care agency involved visiting elderly and vulnerable people at home.
One former colleague said: ‘She was really good at her job, she made it fun for the elderly and made them feel young again. We had lots of laughs together. Obviously dogs were her passion, she always wanted to work with animals, but in the care industry she was just that – caring.’
One colleague recalled her love of dancing. ‘She would dance at every opportunity. If she was upset, she’d dance it off. If someone needed cheering up, she’d have a dance, she didn’t care a jot.’
It has been reported that Ms Johnston previously owned a Staffordshire bull terrier and had taken in a rescue dog. In 2018 she was pictured cuddling a family dog resembling a Staffie, called Aurora.
It is not known how many dogs Ms Johnston was walking when she was attacked. Eight dogs were seized by the police, prompting speculation she had broken the district’s limit of walking six at once. None were banned breeds, with two dachshunds and an 11-stone Leonberger called Shiva among them. They remain in kennels for forensic tests and could be held for a year.
Tandridge council says is considering plans for licensed professional dog walkers to wear armbands to reassure concerned residents.
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