The fourth recent dog attack against a Mint Hill horse proved to be fatal this week.
The 33-year-old horse, Joker, died Wednesday, Feb. 6, in the Dan Hood Road pasture where she was born after neighbors saw her being chased by two dogs. The dogs’ owner, Michael Roberts of nearby Grier Place, was cited by Mint Hill police Wednesday with two counts of violating the county’s leash law.
An American bulldog mix was found late Wednesday on Timber Wood Court in Matthews but at press time officials couldn’t confirm it was one of the missing dogs, Melissa Knicely, Animal Care & Control spokeswman said.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control is still investigating, Knicely said. Though animal control officers didn’t find any “puncture wounds” on Joker, caretaker Bill Williamson said he saw a dog bite on her neck. Though officials don’t know what caused Joker’s death, Williamson suspects she had a heart attack after being chased by the dogs.
In 2011, Joker was attacked and chased on three separate occasions by two other pit bulls Roberts owned. Those dogs were classified as “dangerous” and were euthanized by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control. The ruling didn’t restrict Roberts from owning other animals, including more pit bulls, and he got two new dogs soon after, neighbors say. Roberts declined to comment Wednesday.
Resident John Little called Mint Hill police at about 1 p.m. Wednesday after a neighbor told him two pit bulls were attacking Joker. Little retrieved a handgun from inside his home and ran across the street to Joker’s pasture, the home of Bill Williamson. Williamson suffered a heart attack in his front yard in 2011 after Roberts’ previous pit bulls chased and attacked Joker. Police used cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and a portable defibrillator to revive Williamson. Joker belonged to Kris Keener of Lincolnton but the Williamson family has cared for her on the 31 acres since she was born.
When Little got to the pasture, Joker was laying on her side, rearing her head like she was trying to stand. The dogs were nearby next to a barn, Little said. He fired several shots at the dogs and they ran into the woods, which border Mint Hill Middle School property. Little doesn’t know if either of the dogs were injured by the gunshots.
By the time police arrived Joker was dead, Little said. Her 1,400-pound body was visible in the pasture Wednesday afternoon as animal control and police officers combed the area for the dogs.
A Mint Hill resident for 35 years, Little called the situation “beyond frustrating.” Mint Hill commissioners decided after the 2011 attacks not to explore having its own dog ordinance. It’s a decision town commissioners should revisit, Little said.
In December 2010, 6-year-old Jakob Clark was mauled by a family member’s pit bull in Mint Hill. His grandmother also was injured by the dog.
“When will Mint Hill town officials get the message that some dogs are dangerous? Mint Hill’s a nice place, but I’m not so sure our elected officials are doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” Little said. “When a child gets killed in their own front yard, Mint Hill’s going to be in the spotlight and (town officials are) going to look like idiots.”
Williamson said he “cannot believe this is still going on” and challenges Mint Hill commissioners to action.
“Mint Hill’s inaction about pit bulls has now resulted in the death of a horse,” he said. “Now (the dogs) have no horse to attack, what’s next – kids? Adults? Nobody in this neighborhood is safe.”
Anyone who sees the a stray pit bull should call Mint Hill Police at 704-847-5555 or Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control at 3-1-1.
What do you think?
Does Mint Hill need its own “dangerous dog” ordinance? E-mail your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll publish them as a Letter to the Editor.