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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.”


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