Some readers may find the images in this story upsetting.
A pony which is suspected as being used as “dog bait” is fighting for its young life after being rescued by an animal charity.
Mikey, a miniature pony, was found tied to a gate close to a housing estate in the north inner city of Cork, by a member of the public on Wednesday afternoon.
The concerned person contacted the animal charity, My Lovely Horse Rescue, which has a centre in Cork.
It is one of the worst cases of sustained abuse that volunteers at the charity, have dealt with. Gardaí in Cork have been notified along with the Department of Agriculture veterinary officials.
Kelly Mellerick, who works with the charity said: "The abuse of the little [pony], whom we’ve named Mikey has been taking place over a long period of time.
"We believe that if he hadn’t have been found by the member of the public when he was he would be dead in a day or two.
"He was actually starting to rot and the smell from him was horrific.
"There is so much infection, and build-up of puss around his neck that he’s struggling to breathe.
"We just have to question how people can do such acts to a defenceless little animal like this. He’s only about 36 inches in height. He’s doing his best to live and he has eaten a little but the next few days are critical.
"His mouth is in an horrendous state so we are finding it difficult to put an exact age on him. We think the most he is, is five-years-old.
"Even the vets which help us, such as Jim Hegarty and Dave Canty, are so appalled by the level of abuse. They have been and are doing wonderful work with him.
"He had to be sedated and many of the healed puncture wounds re-opened in a bid to drain all the puss away. If he is able to recover it will be a long road for him.
"It is going to be a costly process trying to save his life and help him on his road to recovery if he survives. We need as many donations as we can possibly get.
"He’s a brave little boy, we promise to do everything in our power to give him a life worth living.
"But the question needs to be asked, who could let this happen?"