UNION COUNTY, N.C. (WJZY) – An Easter weekend carriage ride turned into chaos when a dog escaped its leash and lunged toward the horse, named “Queen Charlotte,” at the Cane Creek Park in Union County on Saturday.
Disturbing video uploaded to YouTube shows a dog attacking a horse as young children scream in the background. The horse’s owner, Bridger Medlin, said the attack occurred on their first day doing rides inside the park this year.
The victim, Amanda Medlin Underwood, was driving the carriage at the time and tried to break up the fight. She suffered multiple head wounds that had to be stapled and a broken foot that will require surgery, according to her brother, who spoke exclusively to WJZY.
“It was bad,” said Travis Medlin. “I mean it was horrific.”
Travis says the attack lasted around five to seven minutes. He said the dog somehow escaped its leash without warning and “jumped up and latched onto the horse’s throat.”
The horse suffered at least 15 bites but is expected to be OK, the owner said.
“Its face was pretty mangled,” said Travis. “As well as its lips were pretty well shredded by the dog.”
Shortly after the attack, those on board the carriage quickly jumped off. Video shows the horse using her legs to kick the K9 but the dog doesn’t relent. It is unclear why the dog attacked in the first place.
“The horse trampled my sister four different times throughout that event,” Travis said. “And each time she came back and continued to fight with the dog and protect the client.”
The dog had to be put down, Travis said. He says this is a “roller coaster” of emotions for his animal-loving sister. The Union County Sheriff’s Office was called to the scene and is investigating. Park officials are looking to see if any policies or procedures need to change.
“It’s a very unfortunate incident for all involved,” said Union County Parks and Recreation Director Jim Chaffin.
Chaffin says the county is looking into whether any policies or procedures need to change.
“That’s something that myself along with Union County management will be looking at in the next week or so,” Chaffin said, “to determine what we do, need to do, or should do.”
While the county doesn’t have a leash law, parks do require dogs be leashed or controlled at all times. The victim’s family has set up an online fundraiser to help Underwood pay for medical expenses, which are estimated to be at least $25,000.
The family is looking to hire an attorney and is considering a civil lawsuit against the dog’s owner, who WJZY was unable to reach for comment.
“Her legs are so painful that she can’t walk at all,” Travis said. “She literally has to be carried to the bathroom.”
For now, carriage rides have been suspended indefinitely while Underwood and the horse recover.
“Amanda’s a very strong person,” said Travis. “She loves horses. I can’t imagine that [this] would keep her away from them.”