No solution to dog attacks on horses

The flank of Indian Winter was gouged repeatedly.

Attacks on horses by packs of ferocious dogs continue in Hout Bay, with another incident occurring on Hout Bay beach on Thursday February 2.

In October last year, horses belonging to friends Megan Torrington and Sarah McNulty were set upon by two pit bulls and a Border collie near Glenellen Farm, resulting in multiple injuries to the animals (“Horses attacked at River”, Sentinel, November 11 2016). It is believed the dogs belong to groups of young boys from Imizamo Yethu (IY).

While such attacks had been reported before, they have mostly taken place on the horse paths running alongside the rivers. Recently however, the popular beach precinct has also been identified as a problem area.

One of the latest victims, Suzanne Borzon, was riding alongside her neighbour, 18-year-old Zoe van Heerden, on the beach at about 5.30pm when they spotted five children between the ages of five and eight with several dogs in toe.

“We were walking our horses in the sea when all of a sudden these three dogs, a pit bull and two terrier-type dogs, came charging towards us,” Ms Borzon said.

“They were biting at our horses’ feet and bodies. I told Zoe that she should go deeper into the ocean, in the hope that they would stop attacking. In the meantime, I got onto my horse and tried to run the dogs over. This went on for five or 10 minutes. It was really frightening.”

Though there were about 150 people on the beach enjoying the last of the day’s sun, only two men came forward to drive the dogs away.

“I can’t blame anyone for not helping though. These dogs were really vicious. The youngsters who had been with the dogs had since disappeared. They all ran off in the direction of IY.”

One horse, Indian Winter, sustained deep gashes to its flank. Ms Borzon said the other horse, Assessment, was particularly traumatised by the attack, and “kicked out at everything” in the hours following the incident.

“The security guard we spoke to said he often saw the boys and their dogs. They come through the area near Dunes (restaurant). I also learnt the day afterwards there was another attack of horses on the beach.”

On Friday last week, Ms Borzon went to the Hout Bay police station to lay a complaint, but claimed she was told police couldn’t open a case against an animal.

“I was told to approach Law Enforcement, but there was no one at their offices. I then went to the Law Enforcement caravan on Hout Bay beach, but the officer on duty told me that horses were not allowed on the beach. This was a bit strange since horses are allowed.

“I am actually not sure what we can do about this. I often ride along the Disa River and you always see boys swimming there with their dogs, which we know attack people. Now it’s happening on the beach as well. Actually it’s just not safe anymore.”

Suzette Little, mayoral committee member for Area North, said horse riding was allowed east of the Hout Bay River mouth before sunrise.

“Dogs are allowed free running in the middle section of beach, while no dogs are allowed on the Chapman’s Peak side and Mariner’s Wharf side. Hout Bay Beach is one of only three areas along the City of Cape Town-managed coastline where horses are permitted,” she said.

“The intention of the different zones was to separate the two user groups in space and time. The City encourages the responsible use of the coast by all, especially those bringing animals into a recreational area.”