Dog walker almost strangled and headbutted to death by herd of rampaging cows


A dog walker was left fighting for her life after she was almost battered to death by a herd of rampaging cows in an unprovoked attack. Sharon Eley was crossing a public field when she was surrounded by 20 cows and tossed to the ground, before they repeatedly headbutted her in the five-minute attack in May.

And the 51-year-old was almost strangled to death when her bag strap wrapped around her throat – leaving her with a ligature mark commonly seen on hanging victims. Sharon remembered: “It was terrifying. I thought ‘oh my god I’m actually going to die by a cow attack'”.

The keen hiker was also left with 15 broken ribs, a punctured lung, a dislocated and shattered left ankle, a broken clavicle and severe bruising, following the horror attack.

She only managed to crawl to safety after another walker entered the other end of the field and managed to distract the herd, causing most of the cows to charge toward them, before they escaped unharmed.

Recalling the attack, Sharon, from Blacko, Lancashire, said: “They pushed me over, I was on my hands and knees and I didn’t know how to get out.

“They’d got all around me and all I could see was hooves after hooves after hooves.

“I stood up and then they pushed me down again. I was on my hands and knees again and then they were headbutting me on my back.

“I was wearing a hard leather backpack handbag and they were hitting it. The next minute they’d snapped the arm off my backpack, that had gone round my neck and it was choking me.

“I’m very lucky to be alive.”

She had been walking her five-year-old Lhasa Apso Ralphie, with a pal and her dog, around the Pendle countryside in Lancashire on May 22, the day of the attack.

Sharon, who’d racked up more than 30 miles in four days as part of her training for the Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge, had walked the same route the day before and had no problems.

The official route the pair were following that morning took them through two fields.

After safely securing each dog and keeping them on a short lead, the pair climbed over a stile and into the first field with no problem.

But as they entered the second field, they spotted 20 cows, including calves, huddled in the corner of the field about 20ft away from them.

While her friend voiced concerns over entering the field, Sharon, who owns rural glamping retreat Valley Pendle View, reassured her they would take a “wide berth”.

She said: “Ralphie was on his lead, he didn’t bark at them.

“There were about 20 of them and as we started walking they started walking to us.

“Then the cows ran and that’s quite a scary experience, they skidded and stopped in front of us.

“They were just out of arm’s reach and one of them was snorting.”

So she attempted to make herself “look big”, having successfully used the trick before, but to no avail.

“When they got too close I put my arms up, I didn’t shoo them or make any noises, but then they started to come closer,” Sharon added.

What followed next was a gruesome five-minute attack, and while Sharon’s dog managed to escape unharmed, she could not.

“When I managed to stand up and I went to put my foot down, it wasn’t attached to my leg. I had really good hiking boots on and I went to put my foot down it just went to the side,” Sharon said.

It was at this point that the other walker entered the field, and all but one cow charged to the other side.

She then faced a stand-off with the remaining cow, which held its ground, snorting and staring at her.

Sharon said: “I thought this is game over now because I can’t actually move.

“What felt like an hour, but was probably about three seconds, this cow just snorted and then walked off.

“My friend was screaming for me to get out of the field, she tried to help me but I screamed at her to get off because I was in pain.

“My adrenaline kicked in and I crawled on my hands and knees to get to the drystone wall.”

Mountain Rescue arrived 10 minutes later, having been contacted by Sharon’s horrified pal, and she was rushed to hospital.

After a month’s stay and two surgeries, she was finally allowed to return home, where she is continuing her recovery.

Sharon is now urging walkers to always be aware of their surroundings, so they can get help straight away should the worst happen.

While she does not know what caused the cows to charge, she believes one encouraged the rest to follow.

She explained: “”I live rurally and was talking to my local farmer friend about it and I explained to him there was a ringleader.

“I asked if it was because I had a bright red jacket on, but he said cows are colour blind.

“He said that when cows calve you may get one who is a little bit temperamental, all the other cows just follow.”

Despite everything, she hopes to get out again as soon as she can.

“I’m in a walking boot now and I’m already planning a walk on the canal next week. I’d like to think the experience hasn’t put me off hiking,” she said.

But she added: “I was ultra-cautious before around cows so I do worry. I don’t know whether I would walk through a field with any livestock in it now.”

And she hopes fellow walkers will take her warning to heart. She said: “Know where you are because if you do get seriously injured it could be a case of life or death.

“Always keep dogs on leads like mine and when you are in front of livestock, particularly cows with calves, just be cautious and know that they can charge and they can attack.”