A Shetland pony rescued from a busy main road by kindly villagers is on death row at a secure council facility and is just days away from execution if a new owner cannot be found for him.
Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council's Animal Welfare Department had just 14 days to find a new home for the pony we have nicknamed 'Rusty' which was spotted and rescued from the main Londonderry to Limavady road in Greysteel village.
That two-week reprieve granted by Limavady Court on July 29 runs out tomorrow, when the poor pony will be "humanely euthanised" if he cannot be relocated to a new home.
Animal lover Bernie McGill couldn't believe her eyes when she looked out of her bedroom window and saw the pony walking down the road that runs through Greysteel village in Co Londonderry, stopping all the passing traffic.
She called to her husband Anthony to go out and save the poor bedraggled creature. And, with the help of their neighbour, he managed to cajole the frightened animal into their garden until they figured out what to do.
Bernie told the Belfast Telegraph they tried everything possible to find out if anyone owned him, but to no avail.
She said he's a loveable animal who has fallen on hard times.
She said: "He really was a sorry looking sight but we have come to the conclusion that he was probably living wild because he bolted every time anyone went near him and his coat was thick and scraggly.
"While he was with us he made short work of the vegetables my husband Anthony grows and chomped on broccoli, sprouts and all his lettuce but he didn't like everything we had planted and Anthony said he 'did a Michael Flatley' on his curry plant.
"He was well fed for sure when he was here but he definitely hadn't been groomed when we found him and we couldn't get near enough to him to even pet him.
"We kept him for as long as we could but our garden backs on to the Glen and it isn't really fenced off so we were afraid he would go into the river that runs along the Glen or escape that way because he did run off a couple of times, but we managed to bring him back.
"We contacted the council and initially they were not too keen to come. They said that we were responsible but all we did was rescue him from being knocked down.
"One of our own dogs got sick and our vet said he had picked up lung worm from the pony so then we knew we couldn't keep him any longer so we rang the council back and told them about our dog getting sick so then they came and took him.
"We do love animals so I would love to see him put somewhere safe where he can run about and be well cared for. I would be so upset if he had to be destroyed by the council."
Animal control at the council refused to let the Belfast Telegraph photograph the pony in an effort to find him a home, or say if they have given him a name, so we have nicknamed him Rusty because of his colour.
A spokeswoman for the council said: "Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council's Animal Welfare Department took a brown stallion Shetland pony into its possession upon veterinary advice on June 5, 2015
"At a court hearing in Limavady Courthouse on Wednesday, July 29, 2015, an Order was passed by the district judge permitting Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council's Animal Welfare Department to dispose of said animal by way of giving it to an animal sanctuary, or where it is not possible to re-home due to reasons of ill-health or council is unable to re-home the pony, it may be humanely euthanised.
"Council is currently abiding by a 14-day appeal period before any further action is taken, as such the pony is still in the care of council.
"Council have liaised with animal sanctuaries regarding re-homing of the said pony, once the 14-day appeal period elapses."
Anyone who thinks they may be able to provide Rusty with a home should contact the Belfast Telegraph or Causeway Coast Council.