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County workers hunt for pit bulls

Woman says animals attacked her horse; animal is recovering

Posted: August 11, 2014 6:12 p.m.
Updated: August 11, 2014 6:12 p.m.

Worried the dogs might chase and attack again, county animal control officers scoured the Santa Clara River wash Monday searching for a pair of pit bulls, a spokeswoman said.

A woman and her daughter were attacked by the dogs while horseback riding in the wash Friday in Canyon Country, said Betsy Webster, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control.

One horse, named R.O., suffered bites to its abdomen and to the back of its legs, Webster said. The mother, daughter and second horse were not injured.

“We are out driving around the area looking for the dogs,” Webster said Monday, identifying a search area in and near the wash, including a stretch in Canyon Country from the northern end of Honby Avenue to the western end of Santa Clara Street roughly paralleling Soledad Canyon Road.

“We have great concerns about ‘prey drive’ because of the way the dogs attacked,” she said, describing “prey drive” a dog’s drive to hunt and kill prey.

“When we see that kind of behavior, that’s what concerns us. Our concern is: ‘Who else would they chase?’” she said.

“One of the dogs bit a horse on its side, breaking the skin and causing an injury to its abdomen,” Webster said. “So if these dogs are chasing prey, that seems to be a prey drive.”

She said she believes the dogs are licensed and is confident she and her staff will locate the owner and dogs.

“An unknown woman was with the dogs and she refused to give any information; that’s why we think they’re owned and possibly licensed,” she said.

Staffers at animal control poured through their database of licensed dog owners Monday, she said. There was no word on whether they had identified the apparent owner of the dogs.

“One of the dogs is a charcoal gray pit bull and the other is a dark brown pit bull,” Webster said. “We want to find these animals and make sure they are secured, so that they don’t hurt anybody else.”

The incident began Friday morning when Natalie Lilley and her daughter, Grace, went horseback riding on R.O. and another hose called Buckshot.

Lilley said she saw a woman walking the dogs, but the animals got away from her and ran toward the horses. Natalie Lilley got between her daughter and the dogs, her husband, Clint Lilley, said Monday.

“She sent my daughter in the other direction,” he said.

Clint Lilley said Monday that the injured horse is improving. He said he had encountered the same two dogs in the wash about two months ago near the western end of Santa Clara Street.

They rushed him, he said, and he recalled telling the woman to put the dogs on a leash.
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