Horses attacked at river

Sarah McNulty and Megan Torrington.

Two Hout Bay friends are still coming to terms with a vicious attack by a pack of dogs on their horses near Glenellen Farm.

The attack by the dogs, which are believed to belong to a group of young Mandela Park boys who often swim in Hout Bay’s rivers, happened on Sunday October 16, while friends Megan Torrington and Sarah McNulty, were enjoying a ride to celebrate Ms McNulty’s 21st birthday.

The dogs, identified by the women as two pit bulls and a Border collie, inflicted multiple wounds to the legs of Classic Warrior and Sir Oliver Twist, while Ms McNulty was lucky to escape injury after losing her balance and falling from the saddle as the animals set upon her horse.

The incident has again highlighted safety issues along the rivers, where reports have also been received of teenage boys exposing themselves to hikers and horse riders – a problem that has persisted in recent years.

Since the attack, neither Ms Torrington nor Ms McNulty has ventured out on their horses, fearing a repeat attack.

“We went out on the Sunday morning like we always do. We had seen a group of about five or six boys when we first went along the river. They were young, maybe between six and eight years old,” Ms Torrington said.

“We had seen they also had dogs with them. They almost looked like puppies. When we came back along the river, all the kids started screaming which freaked out our horses. That’s when the the dogs went for the horses.”

Ms McNulty said the dogs had been jumping up and biting her horse on its legs, while one had also torn the leather on her boot.

“I lost my balance and fell off. I was on the ground, and one of the dogs actually jumped over me. I was lucky that it did not attack me,”’ she said.

Riderless, the traumatised animal ran across the road with the dogs still in pursuit.

“The dogs chased the horse up and down the river for almost two hours before they got tired and went away. Obviously, our horses were in a bad state, and we had to get them tetanus shots because of the bites. It was very scary,” Ms McNulty said.

“I was very surprised how high these dogs could jump. They were vicious, and it was like they had been trained to go into savage mode.”

Ms McNulty said she had reported the incident to theHout Bay police and Hout Bay Community Crime Prevention (CCP) .

Ms Torrington said: “People must be on the alert at all times. And I don’t think this should only apply to horse riders. Hikers and pedestrians should also be on the look-out for these dogs.”

The friends said the issue of teenage boys exposing themselves was well known in Hout Bay. “They do it as a joke, but those who do it are older than those kids with the dogs,” Ms Torrington said.

Hout Bay police spokeswoman Warrant Officer Tanya Lesch said they had no record of the complaint, but she urged the public to report incidents, even if it was only children involved.

Imizamo Yethu community leader Kenny Tokwe said he was aware that many young children kept dogs, some of which were trained to attack.

“I have seen dogs fighting in the township. I think it is important that we put programmes in place so that the youth are kept away from these things,” he said.

CCP operations manager JJ de Villiers said the problem of teenagers exposing themselves to passersby had plagued Hout Bay for a long time.

“There’s no easy fix. The police are busy attending to robberies and other crimes so they can’t always send someone out. You would have to establish the identities of these youngsters and then speak to their parents,” he said.

Friends of the Rivers of Hout Bay chairwoman Jackie Whales was concerned about the latest developments on the rivers.

“I had heard about the attack on the horse riders. The boys swimming the rivers have been doing this (exposing themselves) for years. But all of this has got to stop,” she said. “There might be a need to employ a river warden to keep watch. Everybody has the right to enjoy the rivers without fearing something is going to happen.”