5 On Your Side

Raleigh Man Gets More Than History At Colonial Williamsburg

Posted April 28, 2006

— Many people have been to attractions that include animals. You think if they are within reach, they are safe, but a Raleigh family found out that is not always the case.

For Dwayne Mitchell and his family, a quest for a history lesson at Colonial Williamsburg turned into a lesson on horses. Mitchell said he was just standing on a street corner, when a horse leaned over a fence and snapped right through a map he was looking at.

"I realized very quickly that I had been bitten," he said. "I was shocked. I've been around horses most of my life, so I know they can be unpredictable. But I was really surprised."

Mitchell reported the bite to a security guard. When he got home to Raleigh, he got a tetanus shot from his doctor. He said he tried for months to get Colonial Williamsburg to pay the $180 bill. Finally, he called Five on Your Side for help with the bill and to prevent a similar incident from happening to someone else.

"I can't imagine what happened to me, happening to a child. If that would have happened to her face, her head, she would have been scarred for life," he said.

As it turns out, Mitchell is not alone. The health department reports 11 horse bites from Colonial Williamsburg in the last 4-1/2 years.

When Five On Your Side called the attraction, they paid Mitchell's bill saying somehow "communication just went away." However, spokesman Tom Shrout said the company does not think it is "necessary" to make changes to the way horses are kept since the only get "two reports a year" of people being "nipped" despite more than 700,000 yearly visitors.

That fact still concerns Mitchell.

"If you had to put that on somebody's face, they may never be the same," he said.

Colonial Williamsburg said the reported bites happened most often while visitors fed the horses or held out their hands as if to feed them. Maps warn not to feed the horses.

A horse expert told Five On Your Side that one possible warning sign a horse is about to bite is it puts its ears back and extends its neck. Anytime you are around horses and most other animals for that matter, pay attention to them especially when young children are around.


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