German Shepherd saves owner in Dunmow dog theft attempt

Zenna and Len Horsfell

Zenna and Len Horsfell - Credit: Archant

Zenna, a two-year-old German Shepherd, has saved her owner from a knife attack after a man tried to steal her.

Aaron Rolph saved by his dog Zenna

Aaron Rolph saved by his dog Zenna - Credit: Archant

Aaron Rolph, 28, a chef from Great Dunmow, was walking his dog in the village when a man in a hoodie and tracksuit bottoms came up behind them and used a sharp knife to try to cut the lead.

The assailant missed the lead and cut Mr Rolph’s arm. Unaware how badly injured he was, Mr Rolph punched the stranger in the face but it was when dog Zenna leapt into action and bit the attacker on his left hand that the man gave up and ran away.

Mr Rolph said: “She sensed the danger. I’ve never seen her do anything like that before, usually she will just bark but she thought I must end this.”

The attack was at 6.30pm last Wednesday, June 3.


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A former head chef at Parfect Fairways golf complex, Mr Rolph who believes he was cut with a Stanley Knife, was in hospital for two days. He needed 10 stitches in his arm and has been signed off work for six weeks.

He said: “I always walk Zenna down Bigod’s Lane near St Mary’s Church into the little churchyard and behind the churchyard in the field. “We were walking along as normal when the man used his right arm to try to cut the lead and then he used his left arm to try to grab the dog, I thought what’s going on here and I pulled the dog away so he missed the lead and cut my arm.

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“I realised he was trying to steal the dog, so I punched him and I split my finger on my ring and I thought that was where all the blood was coming from. Then Zenna bit his left hand. I pulled her off him because I was afraid she would rip him to bits and he must have got the same idea because he ran off over the fields.”

Mr Rolph who has owned Zenna for 18 months said he believed the attack was an attempt to steal his pet for dog fighting.

He said: “The police told me dogs had gone missing in Bishop’s Stortford, they are stolen as bait but German Shepherds have a protect and attack instinct. I bought Zenna because a previous girlfriend of mine lived on a farm which had been broken into.

“I’m glad it happened to me and not a little old lady or a young child.”

Zenna has been a bit clingy since the incident, her owner said.

“She’s had a lot of loving comments on Facebook with everyone praising her. She’s back to her normal self but she wants to go everywhere with me.”

Detective Constable Chris Sedgwick said: “The owner’s arm injury was quite serious but the suspect seemed in great pain when he was bitten by the dog so he might also have serious injuries.

“The assailant is described as being Asian and aged in his 30s. He was wearing a dark-coloured hooded top, dark tracksuit bottoms with lettering on the side and dark blue trainers.”

Anyone with information should contact DC Sedgwick at Braintree CID on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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