Update, September 2023
One year after miniature horse Kizzy was attacked by dogs, her owner reports she is alive, well, and ready to return to showing!
“One year ago today Kizzy almost died,” says Cynda Henry on September 15, 2023. “Hard to believe that’s her now in trotting in round pen. She’s going to show in October! It took a village!”
See their heart wrenching story below – warning: GRAPHIC photos.
By Delores Kuhlwein
As Cynda Henry of Apple Valley, California, sat on her porch before work on the morning of September 15, 2022, sipping her coffee, she heard high-pitched barking. Thinking it was dogs barking in the neighborhood, she continued to relax – but then it got quiet, and her own dogs went on alert.
She couldn’t see what they were barking at, so she went out the gate to check each of her horse’s corrals, and when she arrived at the farthest one, where her 3-year-old mini mare, Kizzy, was stalled, she was horrified beyond words and she began screaming.
“There were three black German Shepherds attached to her – one was attached to her neck, another had her throat, and another had her back leg,” Cynda explains. “Two of them turned and charged at me, but there was a wood fence between us and they couldn’t get to me.”
Through her horror, Cynda recognized the neighbor’s dogs that had been loose in the neighborhood previously, causing damage to another dog requiring veterinary care. They had somehow dug under her fence to get to Kizzy. “I screamed again and took off running,” she says. “I banged on the neighbor’s door and I got his attention, and at that point, two of the dogs had redirected, so he got the last one out of the corral. In the process, I had called the police, and they in turn called animal control.”
But little 33-inch tall Kizzy, aka “Picassos You Know You Wanna Kiss Me,” was covered in blood, and so was every inch of her stall, so Cynda and her neighbor, Jennifer, loaded her into the trailer and Cynda headed to SoCal Equine in Norco, California, an hour’s drive away. She stopped to pick up her daughter, Kaydee, on the way, and when she did, she checked on Kizzy, the little mare who had been born on her property. “She stood in the trailer, blood running down her legs and neck, and she nickered to me. She looked up at me, and I said to Kaydee, ‘Let’s keep going.’”
A team of seven awaited their arrival at the vet, and they revealed over 100 lacerations when they hosed off the river of blood. Cynda says you could literally stick your hands into the wounds on her neck. “Her red blood cell count dropped to 19, and they could not put an IV on her because there was no solid place on her neck to start one,” she explains.
Kizzy had recently been clipped for her upcoming show, so they had her covered with a fly sheet, blanket and a fly mask. The vets explained that the fly sheet, which covered her tail, kept the dogs from getting into her vulva, and her fly mask kept them from damaging her face.
They also said if she had not had those garments on, she would be dead. “They also explained they were blessed that they did not get into the joint capsule on her leg,” says Cynda. “The buckles of the blanket weren’t even torn because the blanket had literally been shredded off her. Everyone who has seen the sheet thought a mountain lion had torn her up.”
At this point, the vets tried to be optimistic for Cynda without giving her false hope, but they told her the first few days would be very telling. “No one thought she was going to make it,” Cynda explains, “especially the vets. They were exceptionally kind and said all the right words but they did not think she would make it.”
Meanwhile word spread through the community and through social media, and people from across the world reached out to Cynda. She reveals, “People as far away as Israel messaged me and told me they were praying for her. I couldn’t believe how far this reached, and the number of people who came out in support for her. I firmly believe in the power of prayer.” People also began to call SoCal Equine with payments and they contributed to a Go Fund Me account to help with the vet bills, which were climbing their way to over $10,000.
But even more importantly, Cynda says, they continued to visit Kizzy every day. “I don’t think she felt like she got left – I believe animals feel abandonment the same as people do, so my daughter and I, and my friends that Kizzy knew, made sure we visited her each day.”
And Kizzy slowly began to heal, and Cynda’s and Kaydee’s posts on social media showed signs of wounds getting smaller, and Kizzy getting brighter. Finally, after three weeks in the hospital, Kizzy was released to go home on October 5th with Cynda’s friend, Christine Godin, a retired surgery nurse. Her barn that was fully matted was the place for Kizzy’s wounds to stay clean, and for Christine to continue to treat her while Cynda worked her full time job.
“We are now prepared for her to return home within two weeks,” explains Cynda, who is working on rebuilding their place into what she calls a fortress, surrounded by paneling, and matted so nothing can get into their corrals. “They’d had to dig under a chain link fence to get to her, and she was just the unfortunate horse on the outer edge, and why they dug in after her, I’ll never know.”
She says she slept with the doors open for many days afterward, and she needs to add cameras and lights now. “I still can’t stand to hear dogs barking in the neighborhood – it sends me into a panic and what happened is a sight I’ll never unsee.”
As for the dogs, she originally saw a citizen’s citation issued to the neighbor, who at first had only put the biggest male dog down. “I told him that he needed to do the right thing by putting the dogs down and paying for what happened, and we needed to live as good neighbors,” Cynda says. Animal control had scheduled a hearing to decide whether the remaining two dogs were a danger, and the day before the hearing, the owner put them to sleep.
She also says that she doesn’t know what she would have done without her daughter, Kaydee, the vets like Dr. Tiffany at SoCal Equine who actually thanked her for allowing them to not give up on Kizzy, and the friends from near and far for their support. “It has been faith that has kept me going. There are so many things that happened you can’t put a price tag on – people stepped up and offered their money and time.” Though she still has climbing vet bills, she said she couldn’t put a price tag on what felt like her own child being torn up.
As much as Kizzy has shown she is thriving, Cynda says she knows life may never be the same. “The whole experience has been life altering, the way I keep my corrals now, the watching I do, the things that upset me now are different,” she reveals. “I went back and hugged my neighbors and apologized for the way I spoke to the husband at the time, and I let my anger release at that moment. There is nothing being a bad neighbor is going to change – I realized her dogs had gone bad and they had to make decisions about animals they loved, too, and that’s part of what got me through this.”
Cynda explains the heart of Kizzy has amazed and rocked her to the core, evidenced even further by the livestock guardian dog that sleeps by Kizzy’s pen on Christine’s property. “To see that horse touching noses with that dog after what those dogs had just done to her, that shows to the heart of that animal. If she lives through this, nothing’s going to take her down. She’s as tough as nails and as sweet as could be.”