A miniature horse had to be euthanized after an apparent attack by a human left the mare with internal injuries on the weekend.
The attack on China Doll, a tiny caramel-and-cream pinto known as Dolly, took place in her stall on Holland Avenue, between 8:30 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday, when owner Kerry Hollebone found the stall in a mess, the water bucket turned over and the horse in shock.
“I got her out of the stall and I couldn’t get her to move,” Hollebone said. “Then I saw she had blood pouring from under her tail.”
Hollebone called equine veterinarian Danica Olenick, but the four-year-old horse, who was just 75 centimetres tall at the shoulder, couldn’t be saved.
“She was showing signs of severe distress. She had turned toxic and she was dying,” Olenick said.
“There were signs of trauma and swelling and bruising around her vulva and vagina, and her anus was swollen.”
Dolly was euthanized Saturday, and Olenick performed a post-mortem examination.
The digestive tract was normal, meaning the horse did not have colic, but there was a tear in her rectum that allowed feces to enter her abdomen.
There were no bites or injuries to other parts of the horse’s body, making it extremely unlikely that she was attacked by another animal.
“I think someone got in and took advantage of her being a quiet mare. It made her a good target,” Olenick said.
The investigation has been turned over to Saanich police, who are conducting forensic tests, but the vet believes it is unlikely that the injuries were caused by bestiality.
“I think the trauma was more likely caused by some sort of instrument, but what sort of instrument, I have no idea,” Olenick said.
“It’s beyond belief.”
A second miniature horse was in a walk-out paddock and was not attacked.
Hollebone has now moved the gelding to a friend’s property.
Hollebone has no idea who would want to hurt the miniature horses, which were well-known to residents of the area around Holland Avenue and Burnside Road West and Wilkinson Road.
“They are very visible from the street,” she said.
The fence had been broken, allowing someone access to the barn, said Hollebone, who believes she may have heard a noise about 11:30 p.m.
Saanich police want to hear from anyone who might have information about the case and, although there is no cause for panic, they want animal owners in the area to be alert.
“It’s disturbing and we are handling it as a criminal investigation until we know otherwise,” said Saanich police spokesman Sgt. Steve Eassie.
“People do have reason to be concerned as it may escalate and could go beyond this animal. We don’t want an over-reaction on the part of the public … but it’s certainly something to be aware of.”
It is likely to be another couple of days before forensic tests are complete. It is not yet known whether there will be enough evidence to proceed with the investigation, Eassie said.
“It is a tragic end to this animal’s life, especially for a domestic animal that was very well cared for,” he said.
Erika Paul, B.C. SPCA special constable, said the SPCA was called, but the case was immediately turned over to police.
“We don’t have the ability to do forensic testing to see if there are fingerprints at the scene and, if it’s the result of any sort of bestiality, that’s a Criminal Code offence,” she said.
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