ST. JOSEPH MO - A PIT BULL AND A "LAB MIX" JUMPED LELAND AND GAIL JOHNSON'S FENCE AND KILLED THEIR BELOVED MINIATURE HORSES..."GRANNY" WAS 26 AND "SASSY" WAS 8
Granny and Sassy were more than mere farm animals to Leland and Gail Johnson.
The miniature horses — one black and one white — were constant companions in this rural setting just inside the St. Joseph city limits. Students from nearby Spring Garden Middle School would visit to watch the horses prance on just under 5 acres behind an old farmhouse on South 22nd Street.
For years, a neighbor would approach the fence with an apple for the horses. The neighbor died, but the horses never forgot that gesture.
“Sassy, the black one, would still run up to that fence,” Leland Johnson said.
Granny and Sassy will no longer strut their stuff for students or enjoy free apples. The Johnsons were grieving Monday morning after the horses were found dead, their throats severed in an apparent attack by TWO LARGE DOGS. After hearing the news, neighbors came up to give the Johnsons hugs and offer their condolences.
“We’ve been around animals all our lives,” Leland Johnson, 71, said after St. Joseph police and animal control officers left the property. “Those horses, I guess, they were our best friends.”
Authorities were called to the residence Monday at 8 a.m. after Leland Johnson discovered the horses and fought off one of the dogs with a rake. He believes the dogs jumped the fence that surrounds the rolling pasture where the horses roamed.
Animal control officers corralled the two dogs — POSSIBLY A PIT BULL TERRIER AND A LAB MIX — without further incident. One may have had an identity chip, but Leland Johnson isn’t sure if the dogs were from the neighborhood.
Because the investigation is ongoing, city animal control officers declined to comment on the case.
Leland Johnson’s close call, coupled with the loss of two beloved family pets, left the couple shaken. Gail Johnson said Granny was 26 years old, and Sassy had been with the family for eight years.
“We got the black one to keep the white horse company,” Gail Johnson said. “It’s just a horrific tragedy for us. It just took the wind out of my sails.”
Her main concern Monday was how to tell her grandchildren. One of the horses had been a Christmas gift for a granddaughter years ago.
“It wasn’t a horse,” Gail Johnson said, “it was a family member. It’s going to break her heart like it broke mine.”