14/08/2014 12:50 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Girl, 13, Has 48 Stitches After Being Savaged By Dog In Park

Girl, 13, has 48 stitches after being savaged by German Shepherd in country park

A stroll in a country park turned to horror for a schoolgirl when she was savaged by a German Shepherd dog.

Meghan Reynolds, 13, had to have 48 stitches to her face but is lucky to be alive after the attack in Herrington Country Park, Sunderland.

Incredibly, the dog was being held by its owner on a long lead.

The horror happened when Meghan's friend stopped to stroke the dog.

"The next I knew, it had grabbed me and I was on the floor with the dog attacking my face," said Meghan.

With the girl lying on the floor, the dog - which was being held by its owner on a long lead - began viciously biting her face.

As the dog's owner forced his pet to let go, witnesses rushed to help the youngster.

She was eventually taken to hospital after a member of the public flagged down a passing police car - because an ambulance had still not arrived 40 minutes after the emergency call was made.

Police officers drove Meghan to Sunderland Royal Hospital where her frantic mum Carol Reynolds was waiting.

Meghan had to endure almost four hours of surgery following the attack.

The attack happened on Friday evening after Meghan had been to a barbecue at a friend's house.

The owners of the dog, which has since been put down, are devastated by what happened and no one can understand why the animal, which has happily lived with children, turned on Meghan.

The teenager said: "It is a good thing it happened to me or it could have been a little child.

"The owner was really lovely. She sat holding me until the police car came and took me to hospital, and has sent me gifts and a card."

Her mum Carol, 38, said: "Meghan has been so amazing throughout it all. She hasn't cried once. You just never imagine anything like this happening."

A spokeswoman for the North East Ambulance Service said: "We are very sorry for the delay at what must have been a terrifying experience for Meghan and her family.

"At the time of the incident, we had a very high volume of 17 calls to emergencies where the life of the person was in danger."