BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — An investigation is underway to determine if three Hernando County pit bulls should be given a "vicious" label after attacking a family's miniature horse.
Jenna Kazmier grew up with "Gator" after her family rescued the miniature horse from an abusive home nearly 20 years ago.
"I just fell in love with him, he's just always been here, since I was 11," said Kazmier.
It's unknown if the horse will survive, but his family says he seems to be improving every day after suffering several, deep gashes all over his body.
Family members found Gator on the edge of their 5-acre property Sunday, moments after three neighborhood pit bulls went on the attack.
"There's Gator barely standing, dripping wet, cold in blood," recalled Kazmier. "His ear's ripped off and mangled. He just can barely move his feet."
ABC Action News has learned, Hernando County Animal Services returned all three dogs to the owner Sunday, waiting more than 24 hours before bringing them in for observation.
"It just scares me to think that it could have been my kid," said Kazmier.
The owner of the dogs, Jeremy Freeman, tells ABC Action News that his family's dogs escaped by digging a hole under the front gate.
"They're good dogs, it's just a horrific accident," said Freeman. "It's tragic, honestly."
Freeman is offering to help pay for Gator's medical costs and is promising to make changes to the fence so his pets can't escape again.
"If it was my pony and that's what was going on, I probably would have shot the dogs myself," said Freeman.
Freeman faces a $600 citation from the county. We're told the case is under investigation and a hearing will soon be held to determine what will happen to the dogs.