A seriously ill pony has been rescued from a miserable existence when he was discovered loose near to one of the busiest motorway junctions in Kirklees.
The colt, thought to be just six- months-old, was spotted by a driver on the Staithgate Lane slip road which runs parallel to the M606 motorway between Chain bar and Bradford.
The stunned driver kindly called the RSPCA for urgent help when he was horrified to see the pony was roaming loose.
Now nicknamed Wilbur, the foal is now on the road to recovery in a cosy stable thanks to the RSPCA.
RSPCA inspector Sophie John was called and rushed to the scene to find Wilbur, and before long, she caught a glimpse of the piebald pony munching on some grass at the roadside.
She said: “When I took the call about a pony loose so close to such a busy road I knew I’d have to get there as quickly as possible. Not only was he in danger himself, but he posed a serious risk to drivers too. Lots of lorries go up and down that road heading for the motorway, so it was of huge concern to me.”
She tried to gently approach Wilbur but as she couldn’t get near to him without him nervously moving off it was clear he was not used to being handled so she phoned a colleague for back-up. The pair then worked together to usher Wilbur into a nearby field where he suddenly got a spring in his step.
Insp John added: “It seemed Wilbur was delighted to be off the road and into a field as he then proceeded to give us both the runaround. Unfortunately for us it was an enormous field and it took us ages to catch him as he trotted and cantered away from us, but at least we were in a safe space. Finally, we managed to catch him, just as a vet arrived to check him over.”
Despite his frolicking in the field, the vet confirmed that Wilbur’s health was deteriorating. Under his thick shaggy coat of muddy matted hair he had a body condition score of just 1.5 out of 5 making him among the thinnest ponies RSPCA inspectors see. He was also suffering with a swollen belly, thought to be caused by an enormous worm burden and a suspected chest infection.
Thankfully, after police arrived and officially placed Wilbur into the RSPCA’s care, inspector John took Wilbur to private boarding stables in the county, one of many used by the RSPCA to cope with the enormous amount of horses the charity has had to take in over recent years.
Jacqui Wilson, RSPCA equine rehoming officer, said: “Despite his shaky start in life and his close call roaming beside a motorway, Wilbur’s now safely tucked up in a cosy stable, getting all the care he needs.
“He’s being treated for the large amount of worms he is suffering with and though he is severely thin and malnourished, we are confident we rescued him in time and he will make a good recovery.
“He’s a lovely, friendly little boy and I hope that one day he can be adopted by a loving family who will appreciate him.”
Anyone who finds an animal loose on the road should always contact the police straight away, due to the high risks posed to members of the public.
Just six months ago in July 2017, Insp John was called to collect a pony in similar circumstances from the same location. Nicknamed ‘Stephen’, the pony was safely caught and is now being cared for by World Horse Welfare.
Abandoned ponies like Wilbur and Stephen are very common, and sadly, the RSPCA and other equine charities have been picking up the pieces of the horse crisis for the several years now. It’s not uncommon for welfare officers to arrive and find dumped, dead or even dying horses and ponies.
The RSPCA is currently looking after more than 850 horses, ponies and donkeys that inspectors have rescued. The majority of horses taken in by the RSPCA are cared for in private boarding stables, as the RSPCA equine centres are full with ponies in need of care and rehoming. We rely on horse lovers to donate to the RSPCA or consider if they are able to rehome a rescue horse.
Wilbur was not microchipped and very little information is known about where he came from. Anyone with any information should call the RSPCA inspector’s appeal line on 0300 123 8018.