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After Dogs Kill Ponies, Fundraiser Launched For Columbia County Ranch

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Catherine and Mozart traveled across the country to provide support to those who had experienced traumatic events.

The ponies  from Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses in Columbia County north of High Springs  visited sick children in the hospital and met with victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and tornadoes in Oklahoma.

But on March 4, Mozart was found dead at the ranch and Catherine severely injured following a dog attack, according to a report from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office. Catherine passed 10 days later from her injuries at the Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic.

“We had her on about 15 to 20 medications at one point,” Springhill veterinarian Dr. Devon Vurgason said. “She was doing pretty well after the first few days, and I was optimistic that she might pull through. But unfortunately, a week after her injuries, she took a turn for the worst, and there was nothing we could do to save her at that point.”

In the wake of their deaths, community members are coming together to raise money for Gentle Carousel.

GoFundMe page was launched March 15 with a goal of raising $20,000 to help Catherine’s owners cover medical costs. As of Tuesday afternoon, $655 had been raised.

The owners, Debbie and Jorge Garcia-Bengochea, said Catherine’s hospital care came out to more than $15,000.

While the money will help the nonprofit cover the monetary expenses, it cannot compensate for the emotional toll of the loss, they said.

“For Catherine to go through 10 days of pain and suffering is really just uncalled for,” Jorge Garcia-Bengochea said. “I know it’s going to affect a lot of children that follow these horses.”

Although the German shepherd mix and the pitbull responsible for the attack have been euthanized following an investigation, their owner should foot the bill, said Jessica Puls, senior animal services officer at the Lake City Humane Society.

“Florida state law states that the owner of the dogs is responsible for any damages their dog causes,” Puls said.

The owner of the dogs, listed on a Lake City Humane Society report as Tiffany Browning, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. She told deputies that the pit had shown signs of aggression in the past and that she wouldn’t be surprised if it did indeed attack the ponies, according to the sheriff’s office report.

Jorge Garcia-Bengochea said he and his wife are considering taking legal action against Browning to recoup the expenses of the veterinary treatment.

“These horses do such good work. They didn’t deserve these things to happen to them,” he said. “This sort of thing can happen with dogs, and it’s the responsibility of the dog owners so this doesn’t happen.”

About Alexa Lorenzo

Alexa is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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  1. She should be made to pay ALL the costs, the problem is this person, like most loser pit owners, is probably young, renting, works a low paying job, and has no insurance. I hope they take $50 out of her paycheck or welfare weekly for the rest of her life. Choose the breed, pay for its deed. Pit bulls inflicted
    99% of the total fatal attacks on other animals (43,000); 96% of the
    fatal attacks on other dogs (11,520); 95% of the fatal attacks on
    livestock (5,700) and on small mammals and poultry (16,150); and 94% of
    the fatal attacks on cats (11,280). http://17barks.blogspot.com/2014/01/its-slaughterhouse-out-there.html

  2. It’s illegal to plant landmines in the lawn or rig a hand grenade to the gate.

    “Designed to maul” dogs are worse than hand grenades and landmines, as they can leave home and hunt down victim dogs and humans.

    We need new laws that will make dog owners/ dog handlers / dog USERS care enough to keep their dogs and our communities safe and PREVENT that FIRST dog attack.

    We need severe punishments, but prisons are overcrowded already, and too expensive as well.

    Fines alone aren’t working as the wealthy simply pay them and the poor simply don’t.

    Here’s a plan for an affordable, breed neutral law that, if publicized and enforced, will make a positive difference.

    Call these severe and fatal dog attacks on dogs, zoo-farm animals, humans, and on cats away from the dog’s property, what they are:

    IMMEDIATELY remove all dogs from the suspect owner/ handler/ user’s property and control.

    Found guilty, ban ALL the dog’s OWNERS, HANDLERS, and USERS from ANY dog ownership or contact for LIFE.

    The FBI recently added Animal Abuse to the crimes they track, so they can become the national registry.

    Severe punishment, if publicized and enforced, will make many dog owners/ users start to pay attention.

    Signs must be posted on the property: No Dogs Permitted.

    Any dogs later found on their property or in their control shall be immediately confiscated.

    Since the convicted neglectful animal abusers will no longer have any dog related expenses, fines and restitution can be more readily paid.

    Some will say,
    “but accidents happen”.
    Not if the dog’s owners prevent them!

    We must stop calling attacks “accidents” and start calling them “ANIMAL NEGLECT and CRUELTY.”

    This proposed law will reduce the numbers of reactive or deadly dogs, as there will be less demand, therefore less breeding, and breeders of these dogs will learn to be selective of their customers or risk losing customers to the LIFETIME bans.

    Those who actually care about the power breeds will start to be honest about their unique management needs and their disproportionate dangers in order to prevent attacks and save lives (dog and people).

    It must be a severe punishment to make dog owners provide management every single day and PREVENT attacks.
    This law will help, and when enforced, it will reduce recidivism.

    So keep your dogs safe:

    Don’t want to muzzle your power dog in public?
    Better think again.

    Think that you can let your dogs loose in your backyard; unsupervised while you are in the house or away from home? Perhaps you will wish you hadn’t if you lose all dog ownership privileges?

    Don’t want to sterilize your power dogs, even knowing that un-neutered dogs attack more aggressively?
    What’s your ability to have ANY dogs worth to you?

    Does a friend or relative want you to board his dog for him? Ask yourself:
    Are you certain that you and your fence can be 100% successful at keeping the dog contained?
    How will you feel if that dog’s escape results in a maimed/dead neighbor dog/person which in turn results in your permanent ban from any dog ownership or handling?

    Certain that your dog is safe with the visiting grand kids?
    How certain?

    Think your friends or family members are capable of keeping your dog safe while you’re out of town, or in the hospital?
    How much does boarding cost?
    What is the privilege of dog ownership worth to you?

    Compare YouTube videos of these litters of puppies.

    11 week old English Setter puppies on point

    Tiga x Coco pups 6 wk

    Why not to get a pet Malinois

    Breed matters.
    Dog Size matters
    Honest educated people know this.

  3. March 22, 2014

    How many other animals did pit bulls kill last year?
    by Merritt Clifton

    Pit bulls killed 99%

    Pit bulls appear to have inflicted not less than 95% of the total fatal attacks on other animals (43,000). Altogether, pit bulls inflicted 96% of the fatal attacks on other dogs (11,520); 95% of the fatal attacks on livestock (5,700); 95% of the fatal attacks on small mammals and poultry (16,150); and 94% of the fatal attacks on cats (11,280).

    About 30,000 pit bulls were involved in attacks on other animals. There are about 3.2 million pit bulls in the U.S. at any given time, according to the my annual surveys of dogs offered for sale or adoption via online classified ads. Thus in 2013 about one pit bull in 107 killed or seriously injured another animal, compared with about one dog in 50,000 of other breeds.

  4. I agree, the owners of those dogs should pay all the vet bills AND the cost of replacing those sweet little minis.

  5. This woman choose to own the most vicious breed , she needs to be a responsible pit bull owner and pay all of the bills, plus the replacement of 2 new ponies. Every pit bull owner tells us to punish the deed, not the breed.well, her breed did do the deed viciously salutering 2 innocent ponies.

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