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Premier Stables pony killed in pit-bull attack

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Sheriff said charges could be forthcoming

By Lisa King

A popular show pony and training horse owned by one of Shelby County’s most well-known stables was mauled to death in its stall by two pit bulls who were housed on an adjacent property.

Shelby County Sheriff Mike Armstrong said the incident happened at about 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Premier Stables on U.S. 60, just west of Simpsonville.

Armstrong said two pit bulls from an adjoining property owned by George Tapp had come onto a horse farm and attacked a pony as well as another animal owned by Rob and Sarah Byers, who are among the top trainers and competitors in the American Saddlebred industry.

“The two pit bulls did destroy a pony and a cat,” Armstrong said. “When we arrived, the dogs were on the premises but went back home.”

In addition to being a show horse, the deceased animal, a paint pony named Katie, had been a very popular riding horse at Premier Stables, used by many adults and children for riding lessons.

Sarah Byers, who said that she and Rob were in Georgia during the Thanksgiving holiday when the attack occurred, said she did not want to comment on the incident other than to say that the horse was a beloved mare that she had been using to give riding lessons for many years.

Armstrong said he does not know if charges would be forthcoming in connection with the attack, but it is a possibility.

“We have consulted the county attorney [Hart Megibben], and I feel as though there may be some charges forthcoming,” he said. “The animals went on someone else’s property, and owners are responsible for keeping animals on their own property.”

Animal control officers from the Shelby County Animal Shelter went to Tapp’s property, a fishing lakes compound called Tapp’s Pay Lake, and seized the dogs, Armstrong said.

Tapp did not respond immediately to phone messages left by The Sentinel-News.

Bradley King, supervisor at the shelter, said he could not say whether or not the dogs would be euthanized.

“All I can say is that they [dogs] are still here at the shelter,” he said. “We are still investigating to see what all happened.”

Armstrong said he is not aware of any similar altercations in Simpsonville, and Simpsonville Police Chief Chip Minnis said that other than some cat maulings earlier in the year, he had not heard of any other such incidences.

“We haven’t had any pit bull attacks here,” he said. “There’s been nothing of that nature.”