Sunday, July 6, 2014


Revised: July 6, 2014; 18:49 GMT
Revised: July 10, 2014; 17:38 GMT
Revised: July 11, 2014; 15:57 GMT
Revised: July 11, 2014; 23:50 GMT

Two recent dog attacks on horses, separated by four days and nine thousand miles, have spotlighted the dangers posed by fighting breeds. On June 16 a pit bull-mastiff cross attacked Karina Fellows and her 15-year-old daughter as they were riding in Paekakariki's Queen Elizabeth Park in New Zealand. The prolonged attack covered a distance of 1½ kilometers during which the riders were attacked more than once. Both riders were thrown and during the second attack Ms Fellows became tangled in the reins and was dragged when her horse took flight a second time. Both horses suffered multiple injuries. Queen Elizabeth Park ranger Brendan Bulliff said he had never seen a dog attacking so aggressively.1

The second attack, four days later in Michigan, was different from the New Zealand attack in every respect but one: the attacking dogs were pit bulls. In the June 20th  attack two pit bulls entered the grounds at Hampton Green Farm in Michigan and savaged Candela, a prize Arabian, in her stall. While the attack in New Zealand might be called an attack of opportunity, the attack at Hampton Green Farm was a targeted, invasive attack in a confined area. The attack on Candela was particularly vicious because the horse had no where to run when the dog sought the horse out in one of the barns . . . "The dog hunted down the horse. She went for the oldest, weakest of the horses," said Kim Boyer, owner of Hampton Green Farm. There are other cases on record of pit bulls targeting a victim over time, then traversing significant distances and obstacles to seek out that specific victim.2

Unfortunately, some dogs will bark and chase horses but the simple fact is that it is unheard of for dogs other than fighting breeds to attack and remove flesh from the chest, groin, or face of a horse. Advocates of fighting breeds may claim that any dog is capable of attacking, but no other breed will plan an attack and wait for the opportunity to execute it; no other breed attacks so ruthlessly or inflicts such damage.

Pit bull attacks on humans, domestic animals, and companion animals are abhorrent, but attacks on horses fall into a special category of horribleness; pit bulls and other fighting breeds have been selectively bred for centuries to attack large animals without regard to their size. Flora Watkins, editor of England's Horse and Hound, writes:
In 10 years of riding . . . I have encountered the ignorant, the arrogant and those in plain denial about their dogs’ behaviour. Ignorance of the way horses — which are flight creatures — will react to a predator, and ignorance of the damage half-a-tonne of panicking horseflesh can do to itself, rider and innocent bystanders. And breathtaking arrogance in people’s belief that it’s their “right” to let their dogs rampage out of control.

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For a list of pit bull attacks on horses see Timeline of pit bull attacks on horses.

1 The details of the June 16, 2014 attack in Queen Elizabeth Park in New Zealand are similar to the August 6, 2012 attack on a US National Park Service police horse at Crissy Field in San Francisco. In the SF attack the pit bull mounted a prolonged attack covering a distance of nearly two miles, during which the police horse threw his rider and attempted to escape back to his stable. The horse suffered wounds to his stomach and legs. The pit bull's owner, David Gizzarelli, mounted a social media campaign to raise support for the dog, which ultimately proved successful.
2 The home invasion fatal attack on Ayen Chol (Aug 17, 2011) is another example.


Government needs to be braver in face of dog owners
Bay of Plenty Times; March 29, 2014

Legislature needs to take up debate on dangerous dog breeds
February 4, 2008; Livingston County Daily Press & Argus
(Note: this article is behind a paywall)

Lubbock pit bull attacks spark outrage
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal; February 2, 2008

Pony survives Katrina, then is attacked at rescue facility
New York Times, May 15, 2006

Legal remedies against dog attacks on horses and riders

UK Sources:
Dog Attacks
   British Horse Society
British Horse Society influencing legislation
   Horse & Hound, Nov 15, 2012
Concern over rising number of dog attacks
   Horse & Hound, Jan 20, 2012
Menacing dogs put an end to my rides
   Telegraph; April 13, 2012
After 10 years of exercising my horse on Epsom Downs, I've had enough of uncontrollable hounds and ignorant owners.

Previous Equine Posts:
The attack which ended Joker's life was the fourth pit bull attack on the Appaloosa mare. These attacks, as well as others in the area, make the Mint Hill, NC area a Bermuda Triangle of pit bull attacks.
> > > > > Read the full post: Mint Hill Update: 4th attack on Joker proves fatal
* * * * * 
Less than a week later, in DeSoto County, MS, three family pit bulls attacked and killed Misty, the family's seven year old horse while the children looked on in horror. The pit bulls had previously attacked a different family horse. . . .
> > > > > Read the full post: Spud and Misty
* * * * * 
Veterinarian Dr. Lanier Orr was called to the pasture and attempted to close the wounds and stem the extensive bleeding. Trigger suffered for six hours as Dr Orr provided emergency care in the pouring rain, before succumbing to her wounds.
> > > > > Read the full post: Trigger
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Following a pit bull attack on a 3-year old champion horse in Texas, SRUV invited Dr I. Lehr Brisbin to a public discussion of locking jaws.
> > > > > Read the full post: Locking Jaws: II

Statistics quoted on SRUV are from the nation's authoritative source for current dog attack statistics, the 30+ year, continuously updated Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada.
View or download the current PDF

This page may also include information from Dogsbite and Fatal Pit Bull Attacks.

Google News: Today's pit bull attacks