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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Osoyoos Desert Centre prepares for reopening

The 67-acre nature interpretive facility opens June 6

Curbside reads available as Okanagan libraries reopen

Okanagan Regional Library reopened June 2 in phased approach

Shoppers line up hours early for reopening of Penticton’s Care Closet Thrift Store

The not-for-profit thrift store supports several local organizations and charities

Summerland man rescued following ATV accident

Helicopters used to transport injured man to Kelowna for treatment

South Okanagan playgrounds now open

Once caution tape is removed, playgrounds are officially open for public use

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Suspicious activity on North Okanagan bike trails

A rock deliberately placed on a hazardous corner results in bolstered security, cameras

Be cautious expanding COVID-19 bubble, Dr. Bonnie Henry tells B.C.

Senior homes stay off-limits as schools, businesses reopen

Trial of accused in Salmon Arm church shooting expected to be brief

Crown won’t dispute not criminally responsible by way of a mental disorder defence

Defence claims Surrey man was mentally unwell at time of West Kelowna murder

Tejwant Danjou’s jealousy ‘tormented him’, according to his defence lawyer

WildSafeBC: What to do when you find a fawn

Fawning season occurs from May to early July

Small business grants available through Okanagan initiative

Susie and Bryan Gay launched ‘This Bag Helps’ to help fellow small business owners during the pandemic

Vernon Para-snowboarder crushed by competition ban

Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport said Matt Hamilton tested positive for a banned substance

Most Read