A miniature horse named HaliBerry is recovering after its left ear was bitten off in an attack by two pitbulls on a rural property in Cassidy on Monday. (Photo courtesy Golden Maples Farm)

Miniature horse has ear bitten off in pit bull attack on Vancouver Island

Incident happened Monday near Nanaimo

A therapeutic miniature horse is now the one requiring care after its ear was bitten off in an attack by two pit bulls south of Nanaimo on Monday.

The two-and-a-half-foot-tall horse, named HaliBerry, was first attacked by the dogs in its stall and the attack continued out into the field, said the horse’s owner, Eileen Stevens, of Golden Maples Farm in Cassidy.

“My horse is very badly injured, she’s missing her left ear, but she’s a fighter … and she’s going to recover,” Stevens said.

The dogs broke through her stucco wire fence “like it was spaghetti” and Stevens spotted them outside her door when she went to take her horse for its morning walk. After she realized what was happening, she phoned her brother who came right away, and the two of them tried to fight off the dogs with a walker and a broom.

“It was so frightening because it was all happening so fast, but it seemed like so long…” Stevens said. “I just wish I could stop the pictures in my head. To see her running and then when that dog got her ear, part of me says, thank God I don’t have full hearing because I couldn’t hear her scream. Because horses will scream.”

Stevens said she decided to talk to the media about the incident both to correct some misinformation that was spreading, and also to let people know about the dog owner’s response. She said he surrendered his animals to be euthanized and is paying all her veterinary bills.

“It’s such an unfortunate accident because this man has lost his two dogs now and they’re family pets…” Stevens said. “I know his pain, because I’ve had to put animals down before and I’m just hoping and praying that we don’t have to do that with HaliBerry, that she’s going to pull out of this.”

The horse is going to survive, said Colin Scruton, equine surgeon at Equerry Equine Surgery and Sports Medicine hospital in Nanaimo. He said if the bites near a joint had become infected, or if the bites had punctured the abdomen, “then yes, it could have been worse, but no, it wasn’t worse.”

Scruton said although treating a horse for dog bites isn’t common, it comes down to wound management. Cleaning up the wounds took a long time and the horse was given antibiotics.

“Our next challenge is to allow the wounds time to heal and hopefully where there once was an ear canal, for the wound to [heal] so at some point we can skin graft it in the future,” he said.

Scruton said psychologically, the horse seems normal.

“She was in a lot of pain and suffering and shock for the first day, but she’s very interactive [now],” he said. “I have photos of her playing with my son yesterday.”

READ ALSO: Pit bulls were put down after they attacked three children

Stevens said she once owned a pit bull “and it was a lovely animal” and said she thinks Monday’s attack was just a case of dogs getting together and having a “pack mentality.”

Stevens said a farrier, who is a friend of hers, has agreed to look after HaliBerry for the time being. Stevens said she might start up a GoFundMe to build a new shed because she’s concerned the existing stall will no longer seem like a safe space for her horse. The therapeutic care HaliBerry has provided will be on hold. Stevens said some people like to brush and talk to the horse, or a two-year-old might just sit on the horse and giggle.

“She’s that gentle. Everybody falls in love with her,” Stevens said.

RELATED: Dog terrorizes Campbell River senior in her home; kills family cat

RELATED: Vancouver Island council removes breed-specific clauses from animal bylaw



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

VIDEO: Annual Tuba Christmas concert draws large crowd to Market Square

Over 100 tuba and euphonium players gathered to play festive tunes

Revisit Christmas past as Point Ellice House displays Victorian-era traditions

Antique bobbles, cards, decor and more are on display

Bold and brassy quintet touches down at UVic

Internationally recognized Canadian Brass performing with Victoria Symphony on Dec. 21

Saanich church kicks off holidays with peaceful Winter Solstice service

St. Luke’s song-filled Christmas services come later

West Shore Parks and Rec staff member injury raises concerns about cut-through traffic

WSPR says staff member ‘seriously injured’ while monitoring scheduled closure

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Five things of note from Trudeau’s mandate letters to his ministers

Some marching orders come from the Liberal Party’s campaign, while others are new additions

Scheer’s resignation tips party into internal war over school tuition payments

The Conservatives have a Toronto convention already scheduled for April

POLL: Do you have a real or artificial Christmas tree?

The lights are up, holiday shoppers are bustling through the streets and… Continue reading

Most Read