‘So many people find animals dead’: owner of horses attacked by dog calls for action

  • The owner of two horses who were chased and attacked in their own field says “something needs to be done” to ensure owners are accountable for their dogs’ actions.

    Julie Mann contacted H&H in response to a report of two dog attacks on ridden horses within a week last month. Her horses Rubio and Kir were chased in November – but she did not realise straight away.

    “It was a really weird one,” she said. “When I got them in, I realised one was walking very slowly. The vet came out and he had some damage to one leg; then I realised the other one had marks on his face. The vet said they’d probably had a fight; I didn’t really believe that as they’d never fought in the past but thought maybe they had.”

    About a month later, Julie was hacking out when a man stopped her.

    “He asked if I knew whose the horses were and if they were ok after the dog attack,” she said. “I said ‘What dog attack?’ He said he’d seen a lady, and a dog chasing the horses, but didn’t know what to do as he had a child and his own dog with him. A few weeks later, my fence energiser was stolen and when I looked at the footage from my field camera, I realised it had recorded the whole episode.”

    The motion-activated camera had caught at least five minutes of the pale dog chasing the two Spanish geldings.

    “It was pretty awful,’ Julie said. “You can hear the owners shouting to each other. You’d have hoped someone would tell you if that happened; it was about 12.30pm and I didn’t get there till 4.30pm, so the horses were injured for a long time. But I reported it to police and they said they can’t do anything as it doesn’t come under any laws.”

    Avon and Somerset Police told H&H the rural affairs team has since reviewed the incident and will be recording it as livestock worrying.

    H&H has reported on the frustration felt by horse owners about the ability police have to deal with such incidents under current legislation, although some forces have issued warnings to the owners of dogs who have caused incidents by chasing horses. The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, introduced to parliament in 2021, would give police more powers to protect livestock, including horses, from dangerous and out-of-control dogs.

    “It’s a shame when you’ve got video evidence, that the police can’t do anything,” Julie said. “My horses put up a fight; the dog was injured, but you can’t phone vets or anything, and it’s a shame when there are lots of animals being attacked. Horses don’t necessarily come under livestock and it feels they’re falling though the gaps; it’s scary.”

    Julie is on her local British Horse Society (BHS) committee, and has been to events with police to highlight recent Highway Code changes, and is also trying to raise awareness of dog-related issues. She has had an article published in the local government magazine and is urging anyone affected to report incidents to police and the BHS. But she is concerned about the lack of central action being taken.

    “My camera was facing the paddock and you could see the dog was having a craic,” she said. “You can see it grabbing my horse’s leg, and jumping for the jugular of the other one. It got kicked a few times and I think it might have broken its jaw. It was upsetting to watch but luckily they seem to be ok; I can’t believe they’re not traumatised.

    “The good thing is that they looked after themselves but this is going on in lots of places, and for the owner not even to come and find out if they were ok. I feel awful about it and I’m lucky they’re ok as so many people find livestock dead. Something needs to be done.”

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