ANIMALS

Fairfax County animal attacks: Reward offered by Friends of Frying Pan Park

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A group of supporters is offering a substantial reward for information about who is behind a series of attacks on horses at a Fairfax County Park over the past month.

Henry shows off his stitches to children at Frying Pan Park.

"Henry" is only a few months old, but he is already one of the most popular residents at Frying Pan Park, which sees thousands of visitors each week. 

Many visitors were not aware the attacks had occurred , but they were appalled by the news.

"I think it's horrible. We come here all of the time with our kids - a lot of people do. It's just so sad. The kids love these animals," Fairfax County resident Heather Segersten says.

Now, the Friends of Frying Pan Park in Herndon are offering a $7,500 reward in connection with two separate attacks. In the first, a group of therapy horses was stabbed. In a separate incident in which a calf, several young goats and a chicken were cut.

The attacks happened almost exactly a month apart. The horses were stabbed in late April, while the more recent attacks happened near the end of May.

Parent Nicole Shillidan adds, "we were just looking at his stitches, and we're really sad about it."

Recovery continues for the horses that were stabbed. The equestrian center where the horses live, Spirit Open Equestrian Park, is a place where mentally and physically handicapped children ride and interact with the animals as part of their therapy.

One challenge for many parents bringing their children to the park is telling them what happened to the animals.

"Its hard to explain to them. I want them to feel safe too. It's scary.
I say there's bad people out there, and the cops are going to go after them and hopefully they'll find them," Segersten continues.

And that's just what police are doing. Officers say they have received a few tips, but they hope this new reward and increased publicity will help solve the crimes.

Police add that while there's no evidence linking the two attacks, common sense tells investigators it's likely the same person.

Security at the park has since been increased.

All of the animals attacked are doing well and are well on their way to a full recovery. Park officials say the therapeutic ponies will resume giving rides to children this week.

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