Tuesday Apr 08 2008
Reward offered in pit bull attack
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
Public can be â€œeyes and earsâ€ in probe: park official
An Auburn feed store put up reward money Tuesday to help locate a pit bull and owner involved in a bloody attack on a horse. Echo Valley Ranch owner Greg Kimler said that he was shocked when he learned of the unprovoked attack on a Lincoln rider's horse last Thursday. The owner fled in his SUV after the attack, which took place on an Auburn State Recreation Area trail. He and the dog are now being sought by the state Department of Parks and Recreation. Kimler said Echo Valley of Auburn is offering $500 to the person whose information leads to the owner being held responsible for his actions. I was disgusted with the owner not helping, Kimler said. All my customers are shocked because we all ride out there. Kimler, a Western States Trail Foundation board member, said some customers have already pledged additional reward funds and he expects the equestrian community to provide more backing. The dog was off leash and rider Odette Parker said afterward that the owner stood by doing nothing and looking fearful during the attack. The pit bull at one point grabbed onto the horse's mouth and nose with its jaws, forcing the 900-pound Morgan-Arabian to throw it against a tree. The horse escaped down the trail, about 4 miles east of Auburn, with the dog chasing. The horse lost the dog near Foresthill Road and galloped down the road until caught near the Foresthill Bridge. In 15 years of riding trails in this area, I've never heard of an attack like this, Kimler said. I'm sure the owner has told someone about it and if that person is hard up, they could spill the beans. Auburn State Recreation Area's superintendent said help from the public could be the difference in finding the dog and its owner. They can provide the eyes and ears for us, Jay Galloway said. The superintendent said that while the attack was a rare example of a dog attack on a horse in a state park, it did show what can happen when dogs are not leashed. Leashes are required at all times in the recreation area. Not having a dog on a leash and in control is subject to a $260 fine. The dog owner's vehicle was identified by witnesses as a silver SUV but they were unable to get the license plate number. The man had two other dogs with him and quickly shepherded them into the SUV before driving away. Farther down Foresthill Road, he was seen picking up the pit bull and driving away. For people with information on the dog or owner, the state Parks Department can be reached at (530) 885-4527. For people wishing to add to the reward, Echo Valley's phone number is (530) 823-1482. Auburn resident Pam Dolan is one of the area's residents searching their memories for clues to identifying the owner. Dolan said she read the article and it immediately led her to recall an incident in the Denny's parking lot in North Auburn. Dolan said that she recalls it was September or October and she was returning from a store when three dogs “ including a tan pit bull “ barked aggressively out the back window of a dirty, silver SUV. The dogs were mean, Dolan said. Dolan said she's passing the information on to investigators because a parking-lot security camera on at the time may have recorded the license plate number. I'd like to see them caught, Dolan said. And I'd like to help, if I can. Parker and Debbie Torres, a Lincoln rider who was also on the trail, described the man as in his mid-to-late 20s, balding, with a short fringe of black hair near the ears, stocky and about 5 feet 5 inches tall. He wore jeans and a white T-shirt. Parker described the pit bull as tan in color, with black and white markings and black on its face. The two other dogs with the man didn't join in the attack. One dog was smaller and all white, possibly a terrier, she said. The other was blond-colored, thin and shorthaired with docked ears. The Journal's Gus Thomson can be reached at email@example.com.