TERRIFIED children were left distraught after two stray dogs savaged their ponies in a vicious 45-minute onslaught.
Katie Hampton, nine, and her friend Rio Hall, 11, had taken their ponies Tango and Tia out for a trek on Wednesday afternoon when they were attacked.
The pair – accompanied by Katie’s mum, Lyndsey Taylor, and Rio’s aunt Shona Maclean, 17 – left the stables in Station Approach, East Boldon, and headed along a dirt track towards Tilesheds Crossing when they spotted two stray Staffordshire bull terriers running towards them.
The children had just managed to dismount their pets before the male and female dogs began their attack, tearing chunks out of the ponies’ legs and faces.
During the ordeal, the girls got trampled on by their ponies, and four-year-old Tango nearly got knocked down by a lorry after he bolted into a nearby road.
The terrified girls, both pupils at Biddick Hall Junior School in South Shields, then took shelter in bushes as Lyndsey and Shona tried to protect the ponies.
Tango’s owner, Lyndsey, 31, of Sheridan Road, Biddick Hall, South Shields, said: “It was absolutely horrific. The attack went on for about 45 minutes, but it felt like days. It was never-ending.
“We just couldn’t get the dogs off the ponies. We were kicking them and all sorts, but it didn’t work. They were wild. You could see they just wanted to kill. I’ve never seen anything like it.
“Tango got off quite lightly because he was faster than the dogs, but poor Tia’s leg is awful to look at.”
Tango was left with cuts and puncture wounds to his face, but eight-year-old Tia, cared for by Rio’s gran Jackie Jones, of Masefield Drive, Biddick Hall, South Shields, came off far worse.
A chunk of flesh was ripped from her front left leg, exposing the muscles.
Both the ponies are now on antibiotics and will have to remain in their stables for two to three months while their wounds heal.
The white female dog was caught yesterday by the council’s dog warden, but it’s understood that the male brindle is still on the loose.
Lyndsey said: “It doesn’t bear thinking about what could have happened. It’s ridiculous that dogs like this are roaming the streets.
“Someone could have been killed. They’ve done this much damage to ponies. Imagine what they could have done to a child. I feel sickened by the whole thing.”
A spokesman for the police said: “At just after 4.30pm on Wednesday, police received a report of two horses being attacked by a Staffordshire bull terrier at allotments near Station Approach, East Boldon.
“Another terrier was also reported in the area at the time of the attack.
“Officers attended the scene, and inquiries are continuing in establishing the ownership of the dogs, one of which has been picked up by the dog warden.”
Anyone who witnessed the attack or has any information on the dogs’ ownership is asked to contact police on 101 ext 69191.