Two horses at a rescue centre have been put down after being attacked by a pack of dogs.

The mares had foals at foot and fought valiantly to protect their offspring after five dogs broke through a fence at the Serenity Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation centre in Maple Valley, Washington on Saturday (5 September).

Michelle Ammenwerth, a volunteer at the centre who witnessed the attack, told a local paper that she saw the dogs “circling around the horses, biting them and circling them”.

She added: “they bit through her legs — they could barely walk, it was really horrific.

“It was devastating to see this attack on helpless animals.”

The horses were left with such severe injuries they could barely walk.

Both mares, a painthorse named Kat and an Arabian named Kiara, had been trying to protect their young foals, which had not yet been weaned.

Six-month-old Braveheart and the five-month-old Cloud survived, albeit with serious injuries.

The dogs involved in the attack belonged to a neighbour, and had been a continual problem for the rescue centre, according to the centre’s owner, Patricia Clark.

Ms Clark had previously written to the dogs’ owners asking them to contain the animals, but to no avail.

The dogs, which were seized by the King County Animal Control on Sunday morning, have been euthanaised.