A pony has been left scarred for life after being mauled by two dogs as she grazed.
The animal’s eight-year-old owner Lexie Ramshaw has been left traumatised after seeing her pony, called Rose, bloody and distressed.
The animal had to be sedated so a vet could treat her wounds - which included a three-inch hole to her neck.
The five-year-old Welsh section A pony needed 10 stitches to bite marks above her eye and to her nose.
Witnesses watched on in horror as the two Staffordshire bull terriers attacked Rose in a field in Tile Shed Lane, East Boldon, before a man - who is believed to have been in charge of them - leapt over the fence to kick and punch them in a bid to get them to stop their assault.
The man, who was with a young boy, then fled with the dogs.
Lexie’s mum Kerryann, 28, of Whiteleas, South Shields, said: “I was at work when I got a phone call and the vet came straight out. Rose was really distressed.
“She’s calmed down a bit now, but being a Welsh pony, she’s easily spooked
“I’ve taken her out on a lead for a walk and she saw a couple of dogs. She started to snort but was a bit better than I thought she would be, but I don’t think she’ll ever be the same.
“She had to be sedated when it happened because the vet couldn’t get near her, she was just too sore and she had to be cleaned up.
“She’ll be scared for life by this and it’ll be easy to see because of her colour.
Kerryann, who works at Morrisons in South Shields and also owns another horse, bought Rose in June.
Lexie, a pupil at Simonside Primary, has been learning to ride on her since the summer.
While the family remains upset by the attack, they have been comforted by the number of people who have been in touch to offer kind words and helped spread the word to try and track down the dog owner.
Kerryann added: “Lexie was traumatised, she’s broken her heart over it. I was shocked when I saw the pony and Lexie wants to know why this happened to her pony. If these dogs have done it to one, they could do it to another.”
Northumbria Police are investigating the incident, which happened between 12.20pm and 12.30pm on Friday,
A spokeswoman said: “The pony was in a secure field when two dogs lept over the fence and attacked it. The dogs are believed to belong to a man who failed to control them at the time of the attack.
Anyone with information can contact Northumbria Police on 101 quoting reference 447 311016 or Crimetoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.