Sanctuary has 140 horses in need of a stable home
The manager of a Co Antrim animal sanctuary has pleaded for people to come forward to rehome some of its 140 horses as the cost of their care mounts.
Lyn Friel from Crosskennan Lane sanctuary says providing a home to previously abandoned and badly neglected horses is strangling the charity financially, as it costs £20,000 a month.
While the spectre of having to put some of the horses down still hangs over her head, Mrs Friel is desperately hoping that won't be necessary.
Numbers have swelled this year after the Ballynoe sanctuary was approached to capture and take in 15 horses from the Poleglass area of west Belfast.
Mrs Friel told the Belfast Telegraph: "Five of them were in foal, so we now have an extra five near yearlings to look after."
The recent rehoming of two horses to new owners in Germany has given her hope that places can be found for the majority of her ponies and horses, aged between one and 13 years.
Blakeney, a eight-year-old mare, has already gone to Oldenburg to her new foster family.
Rescue horse Orion, who survived against all the odds, will find a new home just outside Frankfurt after Christmas.
"It's lovely to know that these two horses have found new homes in Germany, but we still have many more that need to be looked after," she said.
"These horses have been abandoned, neglected and allowed to run wild in some cases.
"The type of people that we need to contact us about rehoming are those who have the capacity to keep horses in stables or at their own properties, and those with the time and patience to give them the care and treatment that they need."
Mrs Friel founded the sanctuary in 1996 and since then the centre has helped thousands of animals - mostly horses, cats, and dogs - which have been abandoned or neglected.
She and her son David are often contacted in the middle of the night in all weathers to go along and calm and take in abandoned horses.
She added: "Everyone thinks of us primarily as a horse sanctuary, but at the moment we have 19 dogs, 25 cats and 15 chickens.
"Our £20,000 per month includes feeding and bedding and also rental of additional premises and kennels, which we use as a quarantine and overflow yard due to the massive influx in rescue cases that we took in over the last few years.
"We are continually working to rehome and reduce these numbers and desperately need more volunteers to help with animal care, as well as to organise and help with fundraising."
Crosskennan is holding its Halloween Treasure Hunt tomorrow from 2pm as a fundraising venture. Anyone wanting to make a donation can do so via the website www.crosskennanlane.org.uk, or by texting CLAS to 70660 to give £3 a month.