Monday, March 31, 2008

What Would You Do Arabian Horse Owner's Dilemma

I got a call this morning from a friend telling me about a horrible incident. It had happened earlier in the week to another horse person I know. Things like this definitely gave me something to think about. Here's what happened

Late in the evening the husband(non horse person) had come home from work asking why the horses were running outside. The owner couldn't hear anything from the house so went outside to look. She could hear the horses were definitely frantically running but it was too dark to see what was causing their distress.

Running to the field she began to make out dark forms but still couldn't tell what was happening. It wasn't until she got into the enclosure that she could make out two pit bulls attacking her horses. Both dogs were dragging leashes and fiercely assaulting the horses. The first thing she did was dial 911 and report the attack in progress.

In the field were several a yearling and two year old filly and a four year old mare. The older horse had taken on the role of herd protector. Running behind the two fillies keeping herself between them and the dogs, the Arabian mare was trying to fend off the dogs by striking, kicking and biting The pit bulls weren't about to give up.

The two pit bulls were grabbing at the horse with gnashing teeth trying to latch on to anything they could get. One dog managed to grab the mare by her neck and clamped down hard not letting go. Then the other one tried to take advantage of that and ganged up on her too. The horses were running so wild it was a miracle no one broke through a fence.

The owner and her husband managed to corner the horses so they could get the running stopped. Then they tried pulling the dogs off their victim. The dogs fought this interference with everything they had. Their jaws were locked and it was difficult getting them loose.

Sometime in the middle of this the owners of the dogs showed up and they too tried to get the dogs off the horses. Even when the four people did manage to get a dog off a horse, the dog would break free and lunge at the horses again. The dogs were crazed with the taste of blood and totally out of control.

The sheriff arrived at some point. The people were finally able to get the dogs away from the horses. The owners took the dogs home while the horse owner filed her report with the sheriff and called the vet.

The four year old mare who had taken it upon herself to protect her younger sisters was very lucky. The dog had gone for her jugular vein. Had the wound been an inch inch closer the mare would have bled to death before the vet ever would have arrived. Other than that there were lots and lots of stitches.

It turns out these dogs were known to the sheriff. They had been involved in an attack against some hikers. They had nearly killed one man. There were court orders against both dogs. The owners were supposed to have left the area altogether or have the dogs euthanized.

While the report was being filed with the sheriff, the horse owner noticed the dog owners were loading the dogs up in their car. The owners knew the old information would surface and were trying to disappear with the dogs. The sheriff prevented their escape. The pit bulls will be back before the courts again.

I would imagine that it's fortunate for the people involved the dogs had the taste of blood and were locked in on the horses. Without that blood, the dogs probably would have turned on the people interfering with their plans. I can only image what that would have turned out like.

I have had dogs get into my fields and run my Arabian horses a couple of times. Fortunately I have never had vicious dogs do this although one dog was a pit bull. Each time I've been able to chase the dog off pretty easily and my horses have escaped with minor injuries. I guess in my mind I just expect that's how it should go. But now I have to think of the other possibilities.

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So What Would You Do If...................Your horses were attacked by vicious dogs?


  1. If any possible, I would have shot the dogs. Totally legal in this area if a dog is attacking any livestock. If getting a clean shot wasn't fesible, I believe I would have hit the dog over the head with a 2x4, and then proceeded to hit the owner of said dogs. Well, maybe not the owner on purpose ;). My horses and family need me. Jail doesn't sound very appealing. But ya know, those 2x4s have a way of swinging in the opposite direction, and sometimes objects in their way are accidentally hit. ;)

    Thank goodness the horses weren't damaged for life, or killed! What a horrendous event!

    Hoping the Sheriff got those dogs and they'll be put down soon. And the owner's should be fined for not obeying the Judge, and should have to pay for all vet bills!

  2. If dogs attack humans here like that then they are immediately seized & put down.

    Dogs worrying livestock on a farmers land can be shot on sight by the farmer.

    If it was me I would be inclined to stun the dogs with a lump of wood. Dogs like that are a danger & I'm afraid they do need to be put down.

    Hope your friends mare recovers well. What a brave girl to protect the foals like that.

  3. horses4me, here we can shoot dogs as well. However, I have no experience with guns and the times I've had problems with dogs, I think were too hectic to get a clear shot.

    I have since heard that the dog owners have paid all the vet bills. It's my understanding that the attack on humans occured in the town and so they just moved outside of town. I wonder what the town was thinking by allowing them that option. Obviously they didnt worry about anyone's safety outside their town limits. Very sad.

    girl*next*door, our laws protect livestock as well, but like I said above, I don't think in the couple of instances I have had that it would have been possible to get a clear shot.

    Our laws are so goofy though, I wonder if using a 2x4 wouldn't be deemed cruelty.

  4. I would kill the dogs, no question!

  5. If I knew how to shoot, I too would shoot them. Although a good paintball gun might hurt enough to scare them off, and not the same risk of injuries to the livestock.

    Bad enough for the savage attacks on horses, but when they nearly killed a person, they need to be put down immediately, no questions asked. PERIOD!!!

    If my favorite horse was a savage, and nearly killed someone (I'm talking biting for the jugular, not throwing someone and they land wrong), well the decision would be the same.

    I don't like any animals to die, but I don't like people to die either.

  6. Perhaps, but ya know what? Noone would know I used that 2x4! I'd do as a lawyer once said to me, the 3 S's, shot, shovel, and shut up! :O

  7. As a dog behaviorist and owner of a pit bull....couple of things.

    First, this is a horrible attack and I am sorry it happened, BUT any dog can do it, not just breeds that are deemed vicious.

    Pit bulls jaws dont lock, that is a wives-tail. They are exteremly tenacious and strong dogs, but no jaws lock on any dog.

    The taste of blood did not make them crazed, another wives-tail, rather it was something called predatory drift. It can happen with all dogs but is more prevelant in terriers (notice I said terriers and not pit bulls). Predatory drift is where a dog is in a high prey drive and the switch flips from chase it, to kill it. Hence why the dogs teamed up to take one horse down.

    I am shocked that a dog could maul a person and not be euthanized. That the owners would continue to keep that responsibility. If that had happened here the dogs would have been taken and quarantined immediately.

  8. If it were possible, I'd shoot the dogs.

    Stories like this make me want to go take advanced marksmanship lessons, which I've been thinking about since we bought our farm. What a nightmare for those horses and for the owners.

    Seems like the sheriffs' dept. would have some kind of tranquilizer gun to deal with situations like this?? If you can get close enough to hit the dogs, surely it would be possible to use a dart.

  9. Since we both carry, and are damn fine shots, we would have shot the dogs at the first chance of a clear shot. (We are not talking wounding them either.)

    And the onwers of the dogs would pay ALL costs involved for the horses.

    There are some things in life that you dont mess with -- my children, my husband, and my horses are the top 3. (My food comes I will defend them from harm to the best of my ability, at all times.

    I truly hope that the courageous mare heals up fast, and well. And I hope she is recognised for her efforts at protecting her herd!

  10. I'm of the opinion that those dogs are very dangerous and should be put down immediately. They could have turned on the people too. From what I hear about pit bulls, once they latch on they won't let go, that brave little mare was very fortunate as were the people. It is hard to say what anyone would do in that situation, like you said it might be hard to get a clear shot and hitting them with a piece of wood would probably not stop the attack.The best way more than likely would be to call the sheriff and have him shoot the dogs if necessary. Until owners of these type of dogs are really prosecuted to the full extent I'm afraid this sort of thing will happen again.

  11. I would have lost my mind!!!

    What a terrible thing to have happen. I hope they get those dogs put down!

  12. Interesting timing on this post as I started one yesterday morning involving dogs and horses. :) Hopefully I'll have it finished today! I truly hope those dogs are seized before someone (human or animal) is killed as they sound like a menace and EXTREMELY dangerous.

  13. I'm with horses4me. DH teaches marksmanship classes so if he were home and a safe shot were possible, those dogs have been shot. It's one thing if the dogs were just chasing (bad enough but manageable by other means) but as much as it pains me to say as an animal lover myself, dogs that viciously attack livestock or people leave no other choice.

    If I were home alone, you can bet I'd be out there with a bat. Here this is legal - but you do need to be in the process of defending yourself or your livestock.

    Know what you mean about goofy laws. Being in a fairly rural area, the right to protect livestock is fairly clear but that may not be the case in more urban areas.

  14. One more note on the bat approach is that you obviously need to use it only as a weapon to stop the attack. It is legal to defend yourself and your lifestock. It is cruel and illegal to continue once the imminent danger has ceased.

    It is unfortunately a dangerous choice as it requires you to be at close range and you risk taking the dogs' attention from the horses to you, especially when they are working in groups. Get a good swing in the first time around, enough to stun them.

    And, yes, the call to 911 before you leave the house with the bat is key. :)

  15. It seems ridiculous that things have to get tied up in court proceedings. It would be good if a law were made that automatically sent owners and dogs guilty of attacks straight to dog-obedience boot camp while waiting to see the judge about their fate. I have to wonder why the court didn't decide on euthanasia the first time the dogs nearly killed someone. Of course, a lot of people would argue that the owners are at fault and the dogs are just being dogs, but we can't send dog owners to the electric chair and we have to protect the public somehow. Chain-link fencing is not considered to be the best for horses, but I use it around my small acreage to protect my horses from all the dogs on the loose. It would get too expensive for bigger properties and pastures, though. I hope those horses recover both physically and mentally. One of my horses was attacked by dogs while under the care of a previous owner, and I can see the fear in her eyes whenever she sees a dog. We were recently approached by a very friendly dog while I was riding her, and she jumped five feet to the side. It took all I had to hold her still and calm her.

  16. Unfortunately we arent able to shoot out of hunting season for any reason here. I have had two instances nearby in the last few years, one was involving a deer that had either been hit by a car and landed in our field by the road. When our home health aide came in the morning at 7am she said that there were two dogs eating a dead deer in the bottom corner of the field. I asked her if the deer was dead and she said yes, my horses were all stalled at night at that stage so I finished my chores and then walked down with my camera to see what was happening. The deer was still alive and I was hysterical when I realised that these dogs were eating this poor animal alive. It had been mauled really really badly, had at least one broken leg and had obviously been struggling there for many hours because it had snowed the day before and I could see the blood and area of the struggle which was extensive. I had my cell phone and called my husband who now tried to find someone to come and put this poor animal out of it's misery. No-one (even animal control) seemed to care a damn and I was sitting there sobbing my heart out while this poor animal just lay there watching me and trying to move. After an hour and a half an animal control guy came and shot her but refused to take her away so I had no choice but to leave her there and try to find someone to come and move her for me, it was a mess and of course the dogs just moved back in. It took 3 days for me to get someone in to move her or what was left of her. I had taken pictures (being a photographer it is second nature, I hated doing it and havent been able to look at those photos again since then. While we were waiting those 3 days we had the sherrifs department call oon us because someone reported that we had a dead horse in our field, how can you mistake a deer for a horse??? The animal control told my husband to tell me just to leave it until they got there (it was freezing cold) and they would get thre as soon as they could. My husband told them that there was no way that his wife was that insensitive to leave a helpless animal to be eaten alive by the dogs and that I wold wait there until they came. I can still see that deer's eyes etched in my mind.

    My other instance was a few miles down the road a fellow horse owner (TB trainer) had his daughters quarter horse and a yearling out in a pasture and heard a commotion one evening as it was getting dark. His own dogs, dont know how many were in the pack aad brought down and killed the quarter horse and were in persuit of the yearling. He managed to shoot some of the dogs and get the yearling out of danger, but it was too late for the quarter horse. I only know what I have been told about this incident so dont know all the facts, but it is pretty bad when this can happen so close to us and with domestic dogs!!!! I dont know how he got away with the shooting, it may have been during the hunting season and he was lucky, but under normal circumstances we cant discharge a firearm here for any reason.

    Both instances still bring me to tears when I think of them. My heart goes out to the owner of these horses in your story MiKael, and the owners need to be punished to the full extent of the law, which unfortunately isnt harsh enough to ensure that this sort of thing never happens again.

  17. I agree with Horses4me, I'd have shot the dogs! Even at close range with a pellet gun, to at least get their attention and then the owners of the dogs would lucky that the sheriff would be there, because then I'd turn my attention on them. Why the hell people keep those damned ghetto dogs anyway is beyond me. Their are certain breeds that are prone to be vicious. What the hell is the point? They certainly would be presented with the vet bill and I'd take them to court.

  18. I have just read all the comments (should have done that first LOL) and must look into the laws where it involved your own livestock, could be that there is an allowance in a circumstance like that.

    I can just say that on thinking through this whole thing again, the people who intervened were extremely lucky the dogs were so focused on the horse. I have another story about a dog that attacked a man while I was bringing their kids home from school but wont go into all the gory details of that but it was absolutely terrifying.

  19. MiKael you know I have dogs. I'm also a dog trainer. I help people with aggressive dogs.

    These dogs would have been shot, had I been there and had a weapon. I hope they are humanely destroyed now. And although the dog owners paid for the vet bills, there is no recovery for the trauma the horses may now exhibit. I think your friend was very very very lucky.

    All dog owners, but moreso those who have any of the bully breeds or mixes, must show responsibility for the training and handling of their animals. I have long long long been an advocate that neighborhoods and/or communities should .require. CGC testing for all the animals in their communities. This would go a long long way toward ensuring education and proper training for all dogs.

    That said, there are a couple of myths brought up in your post I'd like to dispel.

    "Their jaws were locked and it was difficult getting them loose"

    they don't lock their jaws, what they do have are powerful muscles that allow them to hang on.

    "The dogs were crazed with the taste of blood and totally out of control."

    the blood isn't what made them crazed. It was the huge amounts of adrenalin pumping through their veins. This is part of why I use food so heavily in my training. Dogs can't eat and produce adrenalin at the same time. These two over aroused dogs would never have been able to recognize food. And had they had some basic training skills, these dogs would never have gotten to the point their adrenalin overwhelmed them to begin with.

    "The dog had gone for her jugular vein."

    Probably not. Very likely this was a lunge and grab at a body part that wasn't kicking at him. Dogs generally go for whatever part is closest or most easily accessed. It honestly doesn't sound to me like these dogs had their brains working enough to know that is what they latched near. If they had been true hunters they would not have chosen to get the prey so stirred up that they were stampeding around, but would have stalked their prey far more deliberately.

    "They had nearly killed one man. There were court orders against both dogs. The owners were supposed to have left the area altogether or have the dogs euthanized. "

    Shame on the judge for not doing better to protect the public. I think after nearly killing a person, these dogs should have been confiscated and destroyed immediately or after quarantine for rabies. To allow them to "leave the area" should also open up the judge who issued that order to close scrutiny. He's making poor decisions that endangered 5 more people as well as 4 horses.

    Let your friend know I am deeply saddened that she and her horses had to experience this.

  20. I would have either turned the hose on them or thrown a bucket of water on them. If you get water in their noses they have to let go or they can't breathe. It's also a good tactic if two dogs are fighting.

    It makes me sad to think that any animal must be destroyed, but dogs who attack people or other animals really need to be taken out of the gene pool. That attacks sounds totally uncontrolled and it makes me sick to think what the outcome would have been if the target had been a defenseless child instead of a horse who fought back.

  21. That just burns me right up. I love pit bulls. They are a beautiful, sweet breed. But like any dog, they can be allowed to become aggressive (in worse cases, TRAINED to be aggressive). The problem is that pit bulls are so much stronger than most other dogs, so when they are aggressive, they are dangerous. (Chihuahuas can be aggressive and just be annoying, so nobody really thinks anything of it.) Those owners have obviously not been responsible, nor have they understood what having a dog like that entails.

    I hate that the breed has a bad reputation and dogs suffer because of the irresponsibility of some owners. Those dogs could be saved through intense training, but I doubt those owners would take the time or pay the money to do that.

    One of the easiest ways to distract a dog fight or attack is to spray the dog(s) with a hose (aim the high-pressure water up the nose if possible). It might not work for bulls as wells though, because they are so focused and have alligator-like jaws. Usually the way to get them to let go is to pop them really hard on the nose, but then you risk the aggression being redirected at you.

    I can only imagine how terrified your friend was. I would be so angry at those people.

    For how to keep YOURSELF from being harmed, here are some tips:

  22. Why in the world didn't someone shoot them?? I would have never let them leave my property unless the dogs were dead. Period end of story. These dogs are obviously a threat and need to be killed. Thank goodness the horses where not hurt. That mare did a great thing, because I am sure they would have killed the filly. This really burns me up. We have had several dogs run our horses and needless to say they don't leave our pasture walking. I agree with horses4me too the owners need to be beat! There disregard to life is obvious and they do not need any animals. Praying for your friend and the horses. Hope they have a speedy recovery.

  23. I find it strange that the owners were nearby with their car and these dogs had leashes on. Did they do anything to try and break off the attack before your friend showed up? Something smells fishy to me.

  24. In my dog vs. horse experience, the dogs have always been the big losers. Broken legs, broken necks, dislocated hips. We've got a quarter horse who doesn't realize he is a prey animal. He thinks he's a predator and is vicious to dogs. If he's in hand we can control his behavior, but when loose you'd better keep your dog on a short leash.

  25. You do what needs to be done. You shoot first, ask questions later. In Pennsylvania the law says that if a dog is attacking a person, pet or livestock you can shoot it.
    Those dogs should have been destroyed by the court after attacking a person. That should not have been left up to the owners to do. The owners should be fined and jailed for continuing to have those dogs alive while knowing that every living thing around them lives were at risk.

  26. How insane is it to let the owners have the dogs back?

    Perhaps things are different in the city, but here the officer would have shot both dogs dead on the scene.

    For you and your loved ones (that includes the horses, of course :)
    I pray you have a plan of attack should something like that happens.

    I know a lot of people are against guns, even to protect themselves and their loved ones, so perhaps a shock stick would have the same effect.

    (I'm learning so much more about horses from you. So glad I found you :)

  27. Honestly it's the owners who should be shot. You know I'm being sarcastic, but to own a breed that can be aggressive and not be responsible owners is atrocious.

    I would also have used a bat or 2x to try to get the dog off. I'm not handy with a gun, but I swing a mean bat. I would have done my best to save my horses.

    It also really angers me that a town would give the owners the option of leaving the area as a sane answer to a problematic situation.

  28. I will admit, I have shot several pitbull, pitbull crosses that have packed together in my area (dumped off homeless dogs). If they came onto my land, I shoot them...I still do to prevent things like this. I know I am not the only person in my area, every single one of my neighbors does the same thing.

    The people responsible for those dogs need to be charged as criminals and not given a slap on the wrist. NO EXCUSE.

    Thank goodness the horses were not killed or crippled.

  29. Sorry to say - dead,dead,dead-they would be in my pasture. I have a pistol, a shotgun and a 25.06 with scope on it. Pretty sure I could hit them with something. Living in a reservation town-loose dogs and packs of dogs have always been a problem. I also live on the edge of town-to the north and east of me is wide open spaces, so the packs seem to drift through my pasture a lot. If they don't bother my horses - I have left them alone. My black dog is very protective of his property line though and has taken to chasing them off the property. I like this - not to worry - these rez dogs have always been pretty quick to leave. I guess they are used to being chased away. I have no doubt that if anything got after the horses, he would kill to protect his "property".
    I feel for these horse owners because this has happened around here in the past(not us, thankfully). For awhile, any loose dog in someone's pasture was shot. Sad, but necessary because we have no Animal Control or ASPCA.
    I hate what people have done to the Pit Bulls reputation. I owned one a long time ago and they are just the most wonderful, loyal, loving animals if raised without abuse. But these dogs definately need to be destroyed and their owners prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
    Doesn't surprise me about the older mare protecting the younger one though. I once made a HUGE mistake with a mare and colt. I fed my horses that I kept in the corral and then brought my mare and colt through the corral(it was about an acre-so I thought I had plenty of room to stay away from the rest of the herd and the herd had been next to the mare and colt so was used to seeing him) to put them in the barn. A gelding looked up - saw the baby and charged. All I could do was let momma go so she could protect her foal and run to get a buggy whip. One of my mares took off after that gelding and ate his lunch to protect that baby. By the time I could get to the gate to let momma and baby back out into the pasture, the old mare had that gelding in the corner and was beating the living heck out of him. After that, I had to keep those two seperate. The mare hated that gelding from that moment on and would probably have killed him given the chance. I never tried that again...

  30. This is just horrible, but I'm very happy to hear that no one was badly hurt, horse or human.

    I really have hate for people who continue to host agressive dogs like this and take no action until after something like this happens. However I guess it didn't phase the owners of the dogs after they nearly killed a man. Wow.

    I also cannot believe the judged ordered the owners take their dogs and leave as an option...??? It took a second horrible incident to make a difference? Indefinately the dogs should have been euthanized during the first attack.

    I hope the problem gets handled correctly this time AND the owners pay all vet bills and additional costs for the horse owners.

    Man I don't know what I would do. But it's good you posted about this, we should have a plan, just incase we might ever face this.

    I would probably grab anything I could to strike them with and a hose like DressageMom said.

    Please keep us posted on the recovery of the horses and what happens with court if you can.

    I hope the horses make a speedy recovery!! My best to the owners.

  31. I have thought of this often, as we have drug dealing neighbors with pit bulls. We had one very, very bad thing happen years ago, and some of their dogs were put down by AC b/c of it (the dogs already had a history of killing small animals and trying to attack people by then). They haven't had as many dogs around since then. It was such a nightmare when it happened, and that is one reason I am a huge fan of great fencing. I love fences.

    But if something like that happened, I do know what I would try to do. If there wasn't a clear shot, I would pry it off using the method of sticking a branch between the teeth, AFTER I had put a leash around it's neck so as to be able to keep it semi controlled.

    I hope nothing like that ever happens, though. Pit bulls are usually good dogs, but they need owners who can be responsible, and they (as well as all other breeds) should never, EVER run loose. Dogs should always be contained on their owner's property...

    Anyway, reading that story brings back a lot of bad memories and adrenaline. I truly hope your friend and her horses recover quickly, with no lasting damage.

  32. Another option for those who are uncomfortable with or untrained in gun handling that I hadn't thought of this morning: I carry pepper spray on my photography gear when I'm hiking in really remote areas. You can shoot a stream from 15+ feet away and while your horses may get some of the spray as well it is not lethal, and would break off the attack. Don't get the cheap stuff - look for sprays designed to deter wildlife. It is usually sold as bear spray.

  33. You do whatever it takes. Seriously, you can all plan out what you would do, but when it comes right down to it, all those plans disappear and you're out there doing whatever it takes... Whatever you can.

    It is perfectly legal to kill an animal (stray dog, cougar, bear, whatever) that is attacking yourself or your livestock, and it's legal to do so in whatever manner you can accomplish it.

    I have two LGD's here that would not hesitate to take down any animal attacking my critters, even the ones with feathers. You can bet I'll be right out there behind those two dogs with a gun, 2x4, baseball bat, rake, whatever I could grab to be the 'back-up' if the dogs failed.

    Definitely call 911, do whatever it takes to make sure the dog owners stay put, then I would sue to get the dogs put down -at the very least - if I or my dogs did not manage to kill them, sue for damages, and raise a huge stink about it all.

    Those dog owners were very negligent for letting known aggressive dogs run loose. Period. They should be charged. The dogs should be euthanized.

  34. I read about a woman who found a pit bull attacking her goats. Using just her shirt she single-handedly choked the dog and I believe she killed it. If there are no effective weapons nearby, and the dog is attacking me, I have been told to stuff my fist down it's throat which would effectively choke it and keep it from biting and slashing elsewhere. I'm sure my adrenalin would be such that that dog would know it was contending with a force to be reckoned with.
    I've also read about a man who bare-handed destroyed a wolf that was attacking his sheep.
    In a case like this, I'd do my best not to let the dogs walk off my property either.
    Kim's momma

  35. Amen to all of it. Shoot em. Round here that's a given. I'd have shot them with the Sheriff right there. Arrest me. Those dogs wouldn't have left alive. How is it they can attack a person and not be put down?? And go on to attack horses? Sounds like a pattern to me that needs to be broken.
    And I agree about the owners being nearby and leashes dragging. Something's fishy. If you can't control your dogs on leash, then get to an obedience class. Doesn't matter what breed the dog is, they are all capable of violence.
    And if my dogs ever chased livestock and my neighbor had to shoot them, I'd shake their hand and apologize. I would hope that would never happen. Chasing livestock has dire consequences here.
    That's just a crazy situation. You never know what's going to happen.

  36. Shoot the dogs! No doubt about it!