Stray Pit Bulls on the Rise
Willits, CA - Two pit bulls killed three miniature horses and badly maimed a fourth on November 9, in the back yard of Mike and Kerri Griggs' home. The four mares were being kept in their yard, away from the rest of the Junior Bear Ranch herd, having just been weaned from their foals. Only the heroic efforts of a worker separated the dogs from the fourth badly injured mare. He grabbed both the dogs, dragged them off the mare and tied them up.
"The dogs tore the tendons from the rear legs of the mares, disabling them and shredding their legs. The pit bulls then ripped the ears and noses from the small horses, as well as viciously biting and slashing them."
Two of the mares died of their injuries; the third was immediately put down due to her injuries. Veterinarian Sheri Cronin received the emergency call on her way to church and rushed to tend the surviving and badly injured mare, named Eee. Cronin, with the assistance of neighbors who came to help, worked tirelessly on Eee, hoping to save the mare's life. In the days since the attack, Eee has stabilized, and barring complications is expected to live.
"One of the horses killed was our kids' special horse," says Kerri Griggs. Fortunately, her young children did not witness the horror of the attack. "It could have been my children," says Griggs. "It happened in our back yard. The dogs weren't hungry, they were just roaming and killing. If they attack horses, why wouldn't they attack children?" Notably, the dogs had big collars -- indicating ownership -- but otherwise lacking in identification.
Agriculture Commissioner Dave Bengston next addresses several key issues, the last in which we address in our report: Dog Attacks on Livestock and Horses.
- Bengston said he has become increasingly concerned about the number of dogs set free by marijuana growers. A wildlife trapper in the north county told him he had recently trapped or killed 90 pit bulls that were killing sheep or cattle.
- Bengston said that dogs do not have to maim the livestock to damage them. "The law recognizes dogs worrying livestock is a problem. Chickens, rabbits and even sheep can fall over and have heart attacks in fear if a small dog bothers them," he said.
- Bengston also pointed out, "Sometimes people who just move to the county acquire dogs and let them run free, unaware they can harm livestock." He believes attacks have increased for the county as more people from the city moved into the area.
Veterinarian, Sheri Cronin, also echoes our report. She tells the reporter, "The response by the county to these kinds of incidents is not very good. They tell livestock owners to buy a gun. Like lots of other crimes the victim gets the shaft; this gets old. Frequently the dogs are just returned by animal control to their owners and come back to bother the livestock again."
California has suffered a number of attacks on horses by pit bulls. For the few that reach newspapers, likely many others do not. DogsBite.org has recorded several in the past 8 months including: Apple Valley and Auburn.
10/13/08: Apple Valley Attack: Pony Attack Victim Shares Photos
10/05/08: Killer Dogs Euthanized After Week Long Rampage in Apple Valley
04/23/08: Another Horse Attacked by Pit Bull Near Auburn
04/11/08: Pit Bull Attacks Horse in Classic Bull Baiting Form
See all: Horse Attacks by Pit Bulls