Firefighters charge to rescue of stricken pony

Firefighters went above and beyond the call of duty yesterday to save a trapped pony who was within minutes of drowning.

ISPCA Cork inspector Lisa O’Donovan responded to a call about a pony in distress in a stream outside the city at about 11am.

She found a gelding stuck in the mucky bed of a stream in the Killeens area.

The water was up to its stomach and it was shivering from hypothermia.

She believes the animal may have been trapped there for almost 24 hours.

The stream was between two sheer banks making it impossible for the pony to get out, and the banks were too high and too soft to support his weight.

The rescue effort was complicated by the fact that soft mud prevented Ms O’Donovan from getting to the animal safely.

She said she had to act quickly before the animal collapsed from exhaustion so she contacted Cork City fire brigade.

Two firefighters from Amber Watch entered the stream and strapped a head collar around the gelding they named Victor.

“Pulling him from where his feet were stuck was only the beginning of a long struggle,” said Ms O’Donovan. “The only low lying area was boggy and he didn’t have the strength to pull himself up on the bank. He collapsed into the mud and was unable to get up again.”

Firefighters spent almost two hours trying to haul an exhausted Victor free.

They finally managed to get him out of the mud and on to safety of the river bank around 2pm.

His legs were swollen and his body temperature was very low and he was transferred to the ISPCA’s equine centre in North Cork for treatment.

Ms O’Donovan said Victor would have died without the firefighters’ help and she said they deserved great credit for their efforts.

A veterinary surgeon said the animal was in a lot of pain but should have the strength to recover.

The ISPCA issued an appeal last night for help tracing Victor’s owner.

* Anyone with information should contact the ISPCA on 1890 515515 or Blarney Garda Station on 021 4385111.

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