Beasts at Their Best


Furious hooves and a well-placed chomp save D’Arcy Downs-Vollbracht from a dog attack

D’Arcy Downs-Vollbracht might have ended up dead if it hadn’t been for her good Fortune. On a torrid May afternoon last year Vollbracht, then 34, heard a terrifying scream—”like a baby crying,” she recalls—outside her three-bedroom ranch house in Bullhead City, Ariz., near the California and Nevada borders. Three dogs from an adjacent property were viciously ripping into one of Vollbracht’s African pygmy goats, Tug, while Slash, another pet goat, lay on the ground, bloodied and near death.

Vollbracht, a mock-trial teacher at a community college, managed to save Tug but soon the enraged dogs turned on her. One of them, a dalmatian, had just pounced when Vollbracht’s 6-year-old mare Fortune, watching from her nearby stall, smashed through a steel gate with her hooves and came running to her owner’s rescue. “Fortune started stomping the dogs and biting the dalmatian to get them away from me,” Vollbracht recalls. Then the 1,200-lb. American quarterhorse chased the intruders from the property. “She came back all sweaty and stood by me,” says Vollbracht, who, with her husband, Bob, 42, a restaurant manager, owns four dogs, seven horses and now, sadly, just one goat (Slash had to be destroyed). Vollbracht isn’t the only one grateful for her horse’s heroism. Since the rescue Tug has been bedding down in Fortune’s stall. “Horses are flee animals. To stand and fight against a pack of dogs goes against their nature. I’m sure she knew what she was doing. Fortune,” says Vollbracht of her horse, “is awesome.”


Courtesy of People