Starving horses rescued from field face battle for survival
Horses abandoned by their owner on a barren mountaintop in Co Londonderry have been taken off the land by animal welfare officers so that they can be cared for in stables.
An investigation was launched yesterday after the bodies of three animals were discovered in a field at isolated Glenedra Road in Feeny.
A further six, some of them thoroughbred race horses, were found to be in a "horrific state", so starving and weak that they could barely stand up.
Local families converged on the field on Wednesday evening and helped welfare officers from Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council locate the surviving animals.
They were removed for veterinary care in trailers.
A probe is now under way to identify the owner of the animals.
Teresa McKenna, a horse owner from Draperstown, found the dead animals on Tuesday and alerted the authorities.
"We helped remove six of the horses off the site," she said.
"There were two chestnuts, two palominos, one coloured and one Shetland pony. Animal welfare took them away.
"They said the two chestnuts were so emaciated they weren't entirely sure that they would make it across the fields to the gate as they could barely walk.
"When I saw them I just burst into tears because I didn't think that they would make it.
"Officers said they might have to put them down, they were so far gone.
"They said they couldn't guarantee that they would survive the journey to the yard that they were going to for care. I worried about them all night.
"I know that sometimes when horses are so malnourished and they are fed, they go down and they don't get back up again and they have to be destroyed.
"But the officers texted me yesterday morning to say that they had made it through the night, they had been fed and they were all right and the vet was coming out to check them over, check for microchips and find out who owns them."
She has been inundated with messages of support and offers of help since the story appeared in the Belfast Telegraph.
She added: "It would restore your faith in humanity, the amount of lovely people in the world offering to help these poor, gentle, defenceless animals."
The PSNI said the matter was now in the hands of animal welfare officers at Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.