Horse, rider hurt in dog attack at park
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Plain Dealer Reporter
North Olmsted- No barking. No growling. No sign of agitation. What looked to be a pit bull simply sat at its owners' feet along a bridle trail in the Rocky River Reservation, watching calmly as horse and rider approached.
Carol Miller remembers looking at the dog from atop Blue, her American paint horse, and being thankful for its demeanor. The animal lover reminded herself to pass along a compliment - a quick "Good dog," perhaps - as she passed by during her Sunday ride.
The words, however, never developed past mere thoughts.
The seemingly docile dog lunged and broke free from its leash, launching an unrelenting attack along the trail. The canine's fangs ripped gashes into Blue's neck, belly and hindquarters that took 26 stitches to close. Miller called the event horrifying.
"I've never seen anything as cold in my life," said Miller, who suffered a bite on her chest while trying to get between the dog and her horse.
The mauling near the park's Maple Grove Picnic Area is under investigation by Cleveland Metroparks rangers, said Dianna Kall, an agency spokeswoman. She would not release the name of the dog's owners, whom she identified as a couple out for a hike. The dog is still with the couple, and authorities are seeking the pet's papers to determine its breed.
A report on the incident should be complete by Wednesday. Afterward, charges may be filed in Rocky River Municipal Court against the dog's owners, Kall said.
Park rules allow visitors to bring along dogs provided the pets are controlled on a leash. Kall said there are no regulations pertaining to specific breeds. (Some municipalities - such as Cleveland - mandate that dogs commonly known as pit bulls be muzzled when away from home.)
Miller said that the dog owners need to be held accountable for what happened and that a clear message needs to be sent. "If you don't have a dog that's civilized, don't bring it out," she said. "Dangerous dogs need to be kept out of public."
Miller said she managed to dismount her horse during the attack by catching onto a branch as Blue whirled to avoid the snapping dog. Blue eventually bolted down the trail to escape, the dog nipping at its hooves as it thundered away looking like "900 pounds of panic."
On Monday, Miller spent much of the day in her Olmsted Township barn tending to her horse's injuries. She said she is more worried about Blue's mental scars and whether he'll go back out onto the trails that they rode together so often over the past few years.
"I don't know whether he'll be able to," she said. "This was very traumatic."
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