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



[email protected]

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

Nuxalk Nation celebrates first carpentry graduates

11 students graduated from the community’s first carpentry program

Bella Coola leave their mark on All Native Basketball Tournament as they reach Intermediate final

Nuxalk Braves bring home a strong second place finish; three individual awards for Marlon Edgar-Apps

Anahim Lake RCMP: ‘This type of crime is not normally seen in our small, tight-knit community’

Maverick West facing attempted murder charge in connection with Anahim Lake incident

All Native Basketball: Finals matchups start to take shape as title games approach

Two Prince Rupert sides in contention, while two dynasties are on the brink

CN blockade taken down as federal, provincial representatives agree to meet with hereditary chiefs

CN blockade taken down as federal, provincial representatives agree to meet with hereditary chiefs

Pipeline dispute: Tories put no-confidence motion on House of Commons agenda

Conservatives say they have no confidence in the Trudeau government to end the rail blockades

First case of COVID-19 in B.C. has fully recovered, health officer says

Three other cases are symptom-free and expected to test negative soon

A&W employees in Ladysmith get all-inclusive vacation for 10 years of service

Kelly Frenchy, Katherine Aleck, and Muriel Jack are headed on all-expenses-paid vacations

Via Rail lays off 1,000 employees temporarily as anti-pipeline blockades drag on

The Crown corporation has suspended passenger trains on its Montreal-Toronto and Ottawa-Toronto

VIDEO: Knife-wielding man arrested after barricading himself in Lower Mainland Walmart

A man had barricaded himself in the freezer section of the fish area at a Walmart in Richmond

Budget 2020: Weaver ‘delighted,’ minority B.C. NDP stable

Project spending soars along with B.C.’s capital debt

B.C. widow ‘crushed’ over stolen T-shirts meant for memorial blanket

Lori Roberts lost her fiancé one month ago Tuesday now she’s lost almost all she had left of him

Higher costs should kill Trans Mountain pipeline, federal opposition says

Most recent total was $12.6 billion, much higher than a previous $7.4-billion estimate

Trees Cannabis director fined $1.5M for selling marijuana

Fine follows provincial crackdown on popular dispensary

Most Read