Thursday, July 4, 2019

JOPLIN MO - "GUNTHER" A RETIRED RINGLING BROTHERS PONY AND BELOVED MINIATURE PET OF SUZANNE SALAZAR WAS MUTILATED BY A ROAMING PIT BULL DOG ON JUNE 19


A Joplin woman mourns the loss of her miniature pony, saying injuries from a dog attack led to its death. 
On June 25, the dog's owner pled not guilty to all charges associated with the attack. The judge set the next court date for July 11.
While the investigation is ongoing, the community is mourning Gunther, a retired Ringling Brothers pony.
"Under here, on the other side, the whole thing was just full of holes."
Suzanne Salazar describes the injuries that led to her beloved miniature pony, Gunther, being put down.
"I mean he was just injured too badly, and I knew as soon as I saw him that there was no way for him to survive this."
Gunther was attacked by a roaming dog on June 19.
According to the investigation report: "The owner of the PIT BULL DOG, Taylor Harris, arrived and spoke with the animal control officer. She said the dog had escaped overnight after becoming scared from thunderstorms."
"The dog should not have been out. It was negligence on the owner's part," said Salazar.
Another miniature pony and two regular-sized horses were also in the pasture, but suffered less serious injuries. Salazar says they're still emotionally scarred.
"They still jump every time they hear a dog in the neighborhood bark. Also, they used to sleep under those trees at night and now they sleep over there by Gunther's grave."
Neighborhood children placed flowers for Gunther as the community mourns his loss.
"My kids ask to go see the horses all the time, and it's just part of our routine, and to have to stop is a little rough. That's hard," said November Clark, who runs a daycare nearby.
"These are all people that have come from all over the place that pet the horses. They say they stop by, their kids, their grandkids make them drive out of the way..."
Salazar takes heart knowing that the community is mourning the loss of Gunther with her, but hopes for stricter regulations.
"I'm not against banning any breed, but I would like to see stronger regulations as to licensing and accountability for these dogs."
Harris faces charges of possessing a dangerous dog, allowing the dog to run at large, having no city pet license and having no rabies vaccine for the dog. Harris declined our requests for an interview.
The dog responsible for the attack has been euthanized.
Some residents claim more than one dog was involved in the attack, but no witnesses have officially come forward. If you have information, contact Joplin Animal Control at 417-623-6122.

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