In determining a penalty for the Nov. 15 attack on Phillip Road that resulted in Woodside equestrian Chiyoko Ono falling off the horse, the Humane Society's considered the severity of the horse's injury and the dog's behavior over time, spokesman Scott Delucchi said in a phone interview.
This dog had no history of biting, and the horse's wound was "minor" and "a single scratch," he said. "It seemed to be a single bite."
The Humane Society has three options available in the case of dog attacks: a leash-law warning, a "dangerous dog" designation that includes posting warnings on the owner's property and restraining the dog on a short leash when taken for a walk, or a "vicious dog" designation that ends by euthanizing the dog.
Ms. Ono, who related the story of the attack to The Almanac, said she was bruised all over after falling from her horse Vader as he bucked and jumped in fending off the dog's attack.
The dog's owner had been visiting Woodside. The Humane Society also directed the property owner to fix a hole in a fence that allowed the dog to get out of the yard and attack the horse.
If Ms. Ono wants more compensation for the physical and emotional injuries to herself and her horse — Vader is now "very nervous" around dogs, she said — she can file a civil action in court, but the Humane Society's involvement is at an end, Mr. Delucchi said.
Ms. Ono could need to see a chiropractor and may want to seek redress for her troubles, but that's between her and the dog's owner, he said.
Police and/or the district attorney's office would get involved only if the case showed evidence of animal cruelty or intent by the dog's owner to cause harm, and neither has turned up in this case, Mr. Delucchi said.
Asked if he had noted the significance of the dog having gone for the horse's neck, Mr. Delucchi replied: "We took everything into consideration."
"Whatever we do, it's one of those no-win situations," he added. "Especially with pit bulls, it seems to be one of those issues that's very polarizing."
Some people love pit bulls. They were a popular family dog at the turn of the 19th century, Mr. Delucchi said. Indeed, Petey, the dog with the black circle around its eye in the Little Rascals TV show, was a pit bull.
Other people hate them and want them "wiped off the face of the earth before they bite," he said.
Are they more dangerous in that once they bite, they lock their jaws and cannot be disengaged? "Everyone thinks that," Mr. Delucchi said, adding that while they do have a stronger bite capacity than any other breed and can do more damage when they bite, their jaws are not locked.