Dog attacked his horse, but animal shelter official says local statistics don't support instituting such a measure

An Applegate man says he'll work to ban pit bulls in two Southern Oregon counties after one of the dogs mauled his horse last month.

Mark Kelsey, a 27-year-old ranch hand, disputes Jackson County animal control officials' claims that pit bulls as a breed aren't a problem in the region.

As evidence, he points to a half-dozen deep bites and long scratches on the chest, legs and haunches of Ty, a 1&

189; -year-old Cremello paint horse. The wounds were inflicted Aug. 27 by a pit bull that belonged to a renter on Kelsey's North Applegate Road property, he said.

It's about four inches in diameter, Kelsey said, gesturing to a gash on the horse's chest. (Pit bulls) always made me nervous, but I've never felt this way before.

County Animal Shelter Director Colleen Macuk sympathized with the plight of Kelsey's horse, but emphasized that local records indicate pit bulls don't harm animals or people any more often than other dogs.
— Between January and July, 24 incidents of dogs injuring livestock involved only three pit bulls, Macuk noted. Of 174 reported bites during the same period, only a fraction appeared to be pit bulls, she said. The county doesn't keep records of bites by breed.

My experience is that it is not the breed of the dog, but how the dog is raised and owner responsibility and whether the dog is restrained, Macuk said. I don't feel it is right to tell anybody what kind of a breed they can or cannot own.

More than 250 of the nearly 21,000 licensed dogs in Jackson County are pit bulls or pit bull mixes, county records show.

Kelsey's complaint is under investigation, but Macuk said the owner of the 2-year-old female pit bull that attacked the horse likely would not be cited.

Kelsey said he agreed to rent a room to the woman who owned the pit bull, but then asked her to get rid of the dog after it chased a neighbor's goats. He said he believed the dog was gone until the night of Aug. 27, when he heard a commotion in the basement room and found the dog chewing furniture and walls.

The owner had confined the animal indoors for more than eight hours. Kelsey said he let the dog loose. Later that night, he awoke to find the horse badly injured, lying on the ground. The pit bull was limping nearby.

Because Kelsey released the dog from the room, the owner is not liable, Macuk said. No previous citations have been recorded for the animal. The dog has been securely confined elsewhere while animal control officers try to contact the owner, she said.

The owner did not return calls to the .

The incident confirms the importance of responsible dog ownership, Macuk said. If the dog had been properly trained and confined, it wouldn't have been able to hurt the horse, she said.

That's not good enough for neighbor Gayle Krouse, 56, who chased the pit bull named Tia away from her terrified goats.

I think pit bulls should totally be eliminated from the county, she said. How do you know one won't go haywire?

Her view is shared by Ashley Traina, 19, mother of Kelsey's 9-month-old daughter, Kylee.

If it's attacked a horse, what makes you sure it's not going to attack a human? she said, cradling the baby.

It's not yet clear what will happen to the pit bull, Macuk said. The owner likely will be given a warning about humane confinement and advised that if another incident occurs, the animal could be impounded. A hearings officer would then determine the animal's fate.

Kelsey said he's planning to investigate ways to ban all pit bulls from Jackson and Josephine counties. As for the dog that hurt his horse, Kelsey has no mercy.

To me, if the dog is euthanized, I would be happy, he said.