SPCA Trained Pit Bull-Mix Had Been Tested Twice
San Francisco, CA - In November of 2003, a pit bull-mix attacked a police horse in Golden Gate Park. The dog belonged to an SPCA volunteer who took the dog to senior centers. The attack landed the dog owner in the hospital after being kicked by the horse and the dog in the vet after being shot by an officer. The officer riding the horse suffered back injury from the attack.
The dog attacked the police horse, named AAA Andy, after the dog owner, Anna Klafter, let her off her leash to play with other dogs near the Conservatory of Flowers, something she had done in the past. The dog had been through extensive training and behavior tests that had shown her to be sociable, Klafter said, so she didn't see any harm in it.
The area near the conservatory is not one of Golden Gate Park's 24 designated off-leash areas, and Sgt. David Herrera, who was patrolling on horseback, ordered Klafter to put Nettie on a leash. This is when the pit bull charged the police horse, biting its leg and belly. Klafter tried to regain control of Nettie from underneath the horse and was struck in the face with a hoof.
Besides the possible skull fracture, Klafter suffered a broken finger and head laceration. The horse suffered bites to his belly and one hind leg, and Herrera suffered a back injury caused when he fell from the horse. Another officer shot Nettie, who is expected to survive -- at least for now. A hearing would determine the ultimate fate of the dog.
Officials who trained Nettie said the dog belonged with kids and old folks, not in the pound. Klafter adopted Nettie from the SPCA, where she had volunteered for more than two years, sometimes leading dog-training classes. Nettie's previous owners gave her to the city's animal control because they were moving to an apartment where dogs were not allowed.
Nettie was given basic behavior evaluations by Animal Care and Control in addition to an aggression test for pit bulls. She was tested again by the SPCA and trained for animal assisted therapy. Netty received references from eight people after Klafter adopted her, including animal trainers from the SPCA and Animal Care and Control, and received no negative reports.
Though Nettie's response to children and seniors was tested, she had never met a horse. The novelty may have caused her to give way to her aggressive instincts, said Daniel Crain, president of the SPCA.
Sgt. Phil Downs of the San Francisco police equestrian unit said AAA Andy was fine. Luckily, the dog did not "lock on" to the horse's leg. But Downs fears the horse may be more than skittish when confronted with dogs in the future. The ill effects will be seen down the road, he said. "Unfortunately, a horse has a long memory.''
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See all: Horse Attacks by Pit Bulls