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Saugus resident shaken after horse attacked by pit bulls

Posted: August 9, 2014 2:38 p.m.
Updated: August 9, 2014 2:38 p.m.

A morning equestrian ride in the sandy bed of the Santa Clara River turned into a nightmare for a Saugus woman after a pair of pit bulls attacked and severely bit her horse, she said Saturday.

Now Natalie Lilley says she’s worried the dogs may still be in the area of the wash and could attack a person — or worse, a child.

“These dogs were extremely vicious. They were like two lions attacking a zebra,” a still-shaken Lilley said Saturday, a day after R.O., her horse, was attacked.

“If they looked at my horse like something they could attack, what about a child on a bicycle? What happens when they take a human life?”

R.O., suffered deep bite wounds to his legs and stomach and lost two shoes and pieces of his front hooves. He was treated by a veterinarian and was recovering Saturday, Lilley said.

She hurt her back in the incident, trying to keep dogs away from R.O., Lilley said.  

“I was hanging on for dear life,” she said.

Officials at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station confirmed the incident occurred Friday. Deputies were dispatched to the scene, but the dogs were gone when they arrived, a watch commander at the station said.

Lilley said she was riding in the wash off Soledad Canyon Road with her 12-year-old daughter, who was on another horse, when a woman approached with two pit bulls on leashes. Somehow the dogs got away and immediately began attacking R.O. Fearing the dogs would attack her daughter's horse, Lilley quickly told her to ride off in the opposite direction.

“My mother lion instincts kicked in,” Lilley said.

Lilley said she could feel R.O. trembling as the two dogs circled and jumped up at her, snatching the reins from her hands. She got off the horse and R.O. immediately bolted, with the two dogs in pursuit.

Eventually, R.O. returned home on his own, Lilley said.

“He twisted off two of his shoes, that’s how fast he was running. That’s how scared he was,” she said.

Worried about her daughter and not knowing where she rode off to, Lilley called 9-1-1 and reported her missing.

Several deputies arrived and found the girl about 10 minutes later.

By then, the woman, who refused to give Lilley her name, was gone.

Lilley said deputies told her the woman likely was a transient living in the wash. They referred her to the county operated Santa Clarita Animal Control, where Lilley filed a report, along with photos she took of R.O’s wounds.

She also called the mayor’s office and reported the attack.

Lilley said one of the dogs was charcoal-gray in color and the other was chocolate brown. She fears they could attack again.

“It’s one thing when a horse is attacked,” said Lilley. “A horse can be replaced, but you can’t replace a little kid.”


NotSoAwesomeTown: Posted: August 9, 2014 5:46 p.m.

Hey - here's an idea - how about getting THIS under control instead of wasting time going door to door checking on dog licenses??? This is RIDICULOUS.

ohhyaa: Posted: August 9, 2014 8:36 p.m.

I ride my horse to the "pig farm" every couple of months and always bring a hunting knife along. A fellow ranch boarder that joins our group occassionally carries a pistol in his saddle pack. I've had Coyotes walk right across the path in front of us and never gave a second look. Who ever owns those two dogs should consider putting them down. She obviously cannot control them and they have shown that they won't be controlled. --edited.

chefgirl358: Posted: August 9, 2014 9:15 p.m.

That is horrible! I'm so glad they will all recover and that it wasn't worse. I would not go riding without a gun for a number of reasons, this adds a new one to my list. I used to ride many years ago and those dangers (loose pit bulls, transients in riverbeds) weren't an issue here then, but they sure as hell are now.

Ohhyaa, the hobo who owns these dogs won't care enough to bother. I'll bet she only cares about her vicious dogs and herself. What kind of person could run off and leave someone in a situation like that? I'll tell you who, some cruel, heartless ding with zero empathy or compassion for others.

ohhyaa: Posted: August 9, 2014 10:24 p.m.

Agree with you 100% Chefgirl. Those dogs weren't born vicious. It breaks my heart to hear stories like this since I'm a big animal lover. Unfortunately the dogs will have to suffer the consequences of the owners irresponsibility.

chefgirl358: Posted: August 10, 2014 1:24 a.m.

Ohhyaa, agreed. You know I'm an animal lover too and I hate to see them suffer a sad fate because their owners are total idiots.

supermom: Posted: August 10, 2014 3:14 a.m.

I have seen a female transient with 2 dogs that sound like they may fit the description given. She usually sits at the exit of the parking lot near In-N-Out burger, and sometimes Wal Mart in Canyon Country. I hope these dogs don't go after anyone else. So sad.

ohhyaa: Posted: August 10, 2014 10:23 a.m.

Supermom, as a dog lover it traumatizes me to suggest that you contact the sheriff's and pass along that tip, but I know enough about animal behaviors to know that these two dogs have crossed over a line that they will not likely come back from, especially with their curret owner. Their aggresive behavior will most likely escalate so they need to be removed, separated and observed by an experienced dog trainer that can make a determination if either dog can ever be integrated into a different environment. If not, unfortunately they will suffer the consequences of an idiot owner and will be euthanized.

ricketzz: Posted: August 10, 2014 10:33 a.m.

I am puzzled why anyone would voluntarily enter the riverbeds in the first place.

missyJk: Posted: August 10, 2014 1:55 p.m.

the City is lost...thanks to the city council. when i moved here this was a bit of a western town in the late 80's. It has now become a heroin transient population that is encroaching on our city..while the city council and county supervisors keeps allowing more taxes to be added to our homes

Rocketeer: Posted: August 11, 2014 3:13 a.m.

A woman attacked by two vicious animals but FORBIDDEN to carry the means to defend herself.

California needs to become a shall issue state.

ricketzz: Posted: August 11, 2014 9:46 a.m.

That was the first thing that came to my mind but I chose not to go there, as we have only so much room on our plate of goodness to argue over.

underwater: Posted: August 11, 2014 11:36 a.m.

It is illegal to be in the "sandy bed of the Santa Clara River". If she was not trespassing, she would be have not been attacked.

chefgirl358: Posted: August 11, 2014 12:24 p.m.

Underwater, it's not illegal. Most of the equestrian folks ride horses in the riverbeds and have ever since I can remember. I rode in the riverbed in my teens too.

It's illegal to LIVE in the riverbed, not to hike, walk or ride through it.

chefgirl358: Posted: August 11, 2014 12:27 p.m.

even if that were true (which I don't believe it is) that it's illegal to be in the riverbed, your point of view is appallingly bad. It's like the old, if she wasn't wearing a short skirt she wouldn't have been raped, archaic disgusting train of thought.

At no time, in no place, under any circumstance, is it ok for a person to be attacked by vicious dogs that some owner cannot control. Going on your logic, if the broad with the dogs wasn't there, she wouldn't have been attacked either.

ajones999: Posted: August 11, 2014 3:43 p.m.

We never hear about French Poodles, Golden Retrievers, German Shephards, Chihuahuas attacking .... it's ALWAYS the Pit Bulls.

underwater: Posted: August 11, 2014 5:04 p.m.

@chefgirl358. You tell that to the L A County sheriff that gave me a ticket a while back for riding a dirt bike in riverbed. Trespassing! Read the sign on the access gates leading into the riverbed. They read "only chefgirl358 allowed in the riverbed"

chefgirl358: Posted: August 11, 2014 6:39 p.m.

Underwater, lol you didn't mention you were RIDING A DIRTBIKE which is indeed illegal to do in the riverbed. I thought everyone knew that. I can assure you if you were simply on a walk or a horse, that would not be an issue.

chefgirl358: Posted: August 11, 2014 6:41 p.m.

In case anyone else needs clarification, you also can't be in the riverbed on a sandrail, Quad runner, or off road vehicles that are designated for specific areas.

When the river actually has water in it, you also cannot boogie board in the current.

C'mon underwater, you know better!

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