Police criticised for slow response to dog attacks

  • A rider in West Sussex claims police are not taking dog attacks on horses seriously enough.

    Susan Eves was riding with a friend on the South Downs near Shoreham on Friday, 4 December, when a dog attacked both their horses.

    Both riders fell off during the incident on Southwick Hill that left Susan’s 16.3hh warmblood “pouring blood from his chest” through puncture wounds left by the English bull terrier.

    “So many people witnessed it and called police that about six units arrived on the scene,” said Ms Eves. “Despite that, within a few days the officer closed our case. I believe the dog should be destroyed under the Dangerous Dogs Act.”

    The terrier was being exercised by a professional dog walker.

    Ms Eves’s friend Claire Plumb went to hospital with a suspected fractured pelvis from the fall and both horses are lame and shaken.

    “We hunt with the Southdown and Eridge and I have no idea how the horses are going to react to the hounds now,” said Ms Eves, who managed to get the case reopened, thanks to her partner Angus Dunn, who is a councillor for the Hillside Ward.

    A spokesman for Sussex police insisted that any crime reported is treated seriously and “thoroughly investigated”.

    “It was initially thought to be a civil matter, but as more details emerged, it became clear this was a police matter and an investigation was launched,” said the spokesman.

    British Horse Society (BHS) north-west regional officer Chris Peat suffered six broken ribs and a punctured lung when a dog attacked her horse on Blackpool beach eight weeks ago.

    Mrs Peat did not report the matter “because police just don’t want to prosecute”.

    The BHS has collected data on dog attacks since 2002. Director of safety Mark Weston cannot recall any resulting prosecutions, other than when two police horses were attacked in Essex last month.

    Equine solicitor Stuart Farr said: “The problem is that, legally, horses are property and the Dangerous Dogs Act deals with people.

    “But an attack is criminal damage and they should enforce it — particularly when people are injured.”

    This article was first published in Horse & Hound (17 December, ’09)

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