Dog owner cleared following horse attack

  • A woman from Greenwich has been cleared of any wrongdoing after her dog attacked a police horse.

    Elena Butterfield’s pet attacked the police horse in Greenwich Park earlier this year.

    The French bull terrier-Staffordshire went for four-year-old Quixote on 22 January. The horse sustained two puncture wounds (pictured) before the dog was restrained by a passer by.

    Ms Butterfield, 27, of Willerby Road, received a court summons for having her dog “dangerously out of control in a public place”.

    She appeared before Bexley Magistrates Court yesterday (Tuesday 2 December).

    “All dogs need to be managed so they do not become aggressive,” said PC Katherine Smith at the time.

    However, the court found that “under the circumstances” Ms Butterfield “did as much as you could and we find the dog was not dangerously out of control.”

    Quixote reportedly kicked the dog and sent him somersaulting through the air. Ms Butterfield said she “tried to grab” the dog but did not want to get kicked herself.

    PC Andrew Hill of the mounted branch at Lewisham Police, who was there at the time, said: “I had to raise my voice to try and get Ms Butterfield to restrain the dog.

    “I’ve been attacked by a dog while on a horse before and that resulted in some nasty injuries, so I was trying to make sure that didn’t happen again.”

    Ms Butterfield said the dog had just become excited as he’d never seen a horse before.

    H&H has been contacted by many readers in the past who have had their horses attacked by dogs.

    Earlier this year (13 May) under new changes to the law, dog owners can be prosecuted if their dog causes injury to a rider on public and private land, including livery yards.

    It is already an offence under the Dangerous Dogs Act for any dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place.

    Riders and industry figures would still like further changes in the law to tackle the growing problem of dogs chasing or attacking horses.

    Currently prosecutions can only be brought if the dog harms the rider or puts them in fear of being injured.

    Last year H&H reported that the number of dog attacks on horses had almost doubled in the past year, according to the British Horse Society.

    But the charity said the changes still don’t go far enough.

    “We would still like to see attacks against other animals be criminalised,” said Lee Hackett from the BHS “At present it is very difficult to take action if a dog attacks a horse. We do need more people to report incidents and even near misses. Without data we will never achieve changes in legislation.”

    The organisation urges all horse owners who have suffered an attack to report it at: www.horseaccidents.org.uk

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