Authorities confirmed Monday they are searching for two pit bulls on the loose in Butler County after the dogs killed two mini-horses and an adult horse.
Three pit bulls attacked the ponies, named Bella and Pablo, and an adult horse in the 1900 block of West Elkton Road in St. Clair Township on Friday, confirmed Deputy Kurt Merbs, supervisor of the Butler County Sheriff’s Office Dog Warden Unit.
One of the mini-ponies’ owners, Mike Powell, shot and killed one of the pit bulls after it killed one of the mini-ponies, Bella, and was eating it, Merbs confirmed.
“The dog was almost on top of the deceased horse,” Merbs said. “You have the right to protect yourself and your livestock. You don’t have the right to shoot them for trespassing, but you can shoot to protect.”
The adult horse was in such bad shape, it was euthanized by a veterinarian on Saturday, said Paul Huesing, Powell’s cousin and the other owner of the mini-ponies.
The two surviving pit bulls ran off and remain at large, Merbs said.
He is working Monday to track them down – and their owner.
He said he went to a possible location for the dogs at a residence along Sipps Lane on Friday, but no one was home. He left a note asking the occupants to call.
“We are following up today. We left notice and, of course, got no phone call, so we are going back today on this. If we get any of the normal games we get out of this ‘oh they are not my dogs’ we will take custody of the two dogs,” Merbs said.
Huesing is upset and vowed Monday to take matters into his own hands.
“I am going hunting today,” he said. “I am going to go out in the field. I have a CCW (license to carry a concealed weapon), so I am always armed. There’s 20 people within this quarter mile radius. There are small children. It could have been them.”
Huesing broke down in tears Monday as he talked about the violent way he lost his mini-ponies.
“They’re irreplaceable. They are family members,” he said.
He said they were the last of his horses.
Bella was 8 years old and just 28 inches tall.
Pablo was 6 years old and about 31 inches tall.
“There’s a special bond with a person and a horse You have them 30 years and it just tore my heart out to have to go through this,” he said, crying.
“I don’t want nobody to be hurt.”
Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones is sympathetic to Huesling’s loss and said he would be upset, too.
The sheriff said he is not a fan of pit bulls, but acknowledges residents who live in unincorporated areas of the county are permitted to have them. The animals must be licensed like all other dogs, however, he notes.
“We tell people to let us know when they see them running around loose Call the dog catcher or your local police. Don’t try to catch them yourself.”
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