EXCLUSIVE: Hillarys Horse Beach dog attack: hunt on for dog owner after girl hospitalised

Jessica Capes on the horse at Hillarys Horse Beach before the incident.
Jessica Capes on the horse at Hillarys Horse Beach before the incident.
The injury to Jessica's foot.
The injury to Jessica's foot.
The injury to the horse.
Jessica Capes on the horse at Hillarys Horse Beach before the incident. Jessica Capes on the horse at Hillarys Horse Beach before the incident. The injury to Jessica's foot. The injury to Jessica's foot. The injury to the horse.

AN 11-year-old Mariginiup girl is still in hospital following a dog attack at Hillarys Horse Beach yesterday.

Jessica Capes was at the beach with her mum Jolanda and friends to show support for community members protesting the City of Joondalup’s decision to permanently close the 160m stretch of beach on Whitfords Avenue to horses.

Mrs Capes told the Weekender that Jessica was “double dinking” on her friend’s horse with another friend just before 10am when a dog, which she said was possibly a brindle pit bull terrier, “came out of nowhere”.

“It leapt up and bit her on her left foot but he didn’t just bite, he hung on like a tug-of-war rope,” she said.

“He hung on to her foot for a good 20 seconds while we were all frantically screaming.

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“Eventually the dog let go and my daughter and her friend fell off the horse, then the dog attacked the horse as well.

“Obviously we were trying to catch the horse because we were worried about him trampling someone because he was distressed.

“By the time we caught the horse, then I was treating my daughter, I asked where the dog owner went and my friend said he was going to lock his dog up in the car and come back but we never saw him again.”

Jessica was taken to hospital where she had surgery on her foot last night to open and flush the wound.

“She’s got quite a big cut on the bottom of her foot and puncture wounds on the top,” Mrs Capes said.

“She needs to be in for the next 48 hours to watch for infection from the bite.

“If it happens to get infected, she has to go for surgery again so we’re not sure how long she’s going to be in there for.”

Mrs Capes said her friend who owned the horse was a nurse and she was treating him for an open wound on his torso and “a couple of bits of skin missing off his legs”.

“My daughter is already a little bit frightened of dogs at the moment and we’ve got dogs of our own, we’re all animal lovers here, so I’m hoping it won’t affect her in the long run,” she said.

“I don’t want the dog euthanised but I want the owner to be forced to have the dog on a lead and muzzled if he’s going to go in to a public space.

“I don’t blame the dog, I blame the owner by not having his dog under control.”

Joondalup Mayor Troy Pickard said the City was investigating the incident.

“Incidents like this send a strong message to all about the potential dangers of exercising dogs and horses in close proximity and the importance of responsible dog ownership,” he said.

“The male owner of the dog left the scene and the City is asking for any witnesses… to contact the City on 1300 655 860 so a full investigation can be undertaken.”

Mrs Capes said she had “never had an issue before having dogs around horses” but believed the horse and dog beaches should be kept separate.

“I’d love the horse beach to stay open,” she said.

“If anything, I’d like it to be made a bit bigger and have it designated.

We have to be off there by 12pm as it is, so let’s designate it to horses only until 12pm then let the dogs on that side of the path.”

The Hillarys Horse Beach will be permanently closed to horses from January 24 following the Joondalup council’s final decision last month.