South Sound News

Pit bull attacks horses, riders in Pierce County

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — Two women and their horses were forced to fight off a dog attack in Pierce County near Waller on Friday.

The attack by a pit bull sent a 19-year-old to the emergency room and one of the horses to the vet.

The victims are still looking for the owner of the pit bull.

Cheryl Vanackeren said it was a regular Friday morning and she and her niece were riding on a popular equestrian trail.

"All of sudden, I see something black as a shadow jumping at me," said Vanessa Farrish, Vanackeren's niece.

They say the pit bull started biting at one of the horses, Ruby.

"That's when I heard Vanessa- she screamed," Vanackeren said, tearing up. "The dog was actually grabbing on to her foot and pulling her out of the saddle and towards the ground, and that's when she hit the tree," she said.

"I crash into it, and I hit the ground and I see a dog's face at mine, and I raise my right arm to cover it and I feel pain in my hand," Farrish said.

They say the dog then turned its attention to the other horse, Nova, biting her several times.

"It relentlessly continued to attack us. This wasn't a quick attack, it lasted over several minutes and the dog got more and more aggressive,"  Vanackeren said.

You can see stitches and swelling on the horse's chest, belly, and legs.

"That is where the dog latched onto her chest, you can see the puncture wounds," Vanackeren said.

A of photo of Nova at the vet shows her still bleeding.

"The dog was jumping up and attacking her belly. She's got several stiches and staples trying to hold it together," Vanackeren said.

Farrish has a concussion, a bitten hand, and bruises all over her body.

"I was terrified, I've never been attacked by a dog," she said.

They're still looking for the owner of the pit bull.

They say they have nothing against the breed -- in fact, Farrish owns a pit bull herself.

"It's not the dog, it's the one who owns them," Farrish said.

But they want to share this warning.

"My concern was all these riders. If this dog comes here regularly, somebody else could get into this same situation we were in. I would hate for someone else to experience it. It is a horrific experience to go through," she said.

The family says it is working with Pierce County Animal Control on the case.

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