A woman’s beloved Yorkshire Terrier was shaken to death by a dog while its owner casually walked off chatting on her mobile phone.

Heather Atkins, 33, a lawyer from Balham, has spoken of her devastation after her best friend, 10-year-old Caro, was killed by a Staffordshire Bull Terrier type dog on Tooting Bec Common.

Wandsworth Guardian:

Little Caro and Mrs Atkins were 'thick as thieves'

Tiny Caro, who weighed just 2.5kg, did not stand a chance when the dog clamped its jaws around his neck and shook him on the morning of Tuesday, May 6.

Police are trying to find the dog-owner, a smartly-dressed woman, who allegedly witnessed her dog attack Caro but continued chatting on her mobile phone and walked off.

Grieving owner Mrs Atkins had Caro since he was a puppy and brought him over to the UK when she moved from Las Vegas.

Mrs Atkins and Caro were 'thick as thieves’ and he had been with her through difficult periods in her life. In turn she looked after 'loyal and doting' Caro who had numerous health problems throughout the years.

Wandsworth Guardian:

Best pals: Caro and Luci 

Mrs Atkins’ other dog, a female schnauzer called Luci, loved him and has been suffering, keeping to herself, in the aftermath of his killing.

Mrs Atkins said: "The dog came over very calmly – it never got agitated. There was not a single part of me that thought this was a dog I needed to be wary about. It crouched down as if to play and then went over the top of his neck and clamped down on his neck.

"It shook him – I could see his little face. It probably wasn’t anymore than a couple of seconds.

"The owner did say ‘no’ but it wasn’t like a screaming ‘no’ – it was very passive. She was on her phone. Her dog dropped my dog. There were big teeth marks. I cried at first and held him for a second then I realised I needed to get him to a vets – he didn’t look natural.

Wandsworth Guardian:

Adorable Caro loved bigger dogs and did not realise how tiny he was 

"What kills me is that the owner, a professional woman in her 30s or 40s, who was stood right next to us as this happened, did not have the courtesy or heart to stop her telephone conversation to ask if I needed help with my dog who was not moving after the attack.

"She just walked on and continued her phone call.  Madam, I cannot tell you about the worth of your life or your animal's, but I can tell you that your dog ended the life of the kindest, most beautiful and loving soul I have ever known.

Wandsworth Guardian:

Caro was a daisy while Mrs Atkins was a ladybird for Halloween in 2003

"I was not ready for this end and for your utter lack of humanity or compassion.  I cannot tell you about the worth of your life or your animal's, but I can tell you that my most beloved friend was worth more than your passing glance.

"I hope that someone is kinder to you in the worst moment of your life than you are to others.  And I hope that your dog did not understand what it did and that it has a long life where it is shown love and affection, the way my dogs have always been."

Wandsworth Guardian:

Mrs Atkins Caro and Luci

Mrs Atkins said she does not blame the dog and is not seeking retribution but the dog needed to be muzzled and on a lead.

She also thanked two female joggers who found her crying and tried to help her.


Police are appealing for information to trace the owner of the dog which attacked Caro at about 8.25am near Elmbourne Road.

The dog is described as similar to a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and ginger or tan in colour.

Its owner is described as black, aged between 35-45 with short dark hair and of a medium build.

The was smartly dressed with a grey or black and white colour coat.

Anyone with information should contact the Metropolitan Police safer parks team on 0779 563 7356 or email WW-Saferparks@met.police.uk.


The scene near Tooting Bec Common