Staff at an animal sanctuary in Aberdeenshire have been left devastated after their “oldest and most vulnerable” horse was left with serious and “disturbing” injuries.
Cheyenne, a 40-year-old horse in the care of Willows Animal Sanctuary and Assisted Therapy Unit in Fraserburgh, was found to be suffering external and internal injuries by a vet after staff at the sanctuary found her tail covered in blood.
The staff member had arrived on Tuesday morning to give Cheyenne her breakfast when they noticed her behaving in an unusual manner.
The sanctuary said: “Cheyenne kept running away and didn’t want to be caught which is very unusual and it took a long time to catch her. Once caught, the staff member in question noticed that Cheyenne had blood all over her tail.
“The vet was sent for and Cheyenne was sedated and examined and what she found was so disturbing that she urged us to contact the police. Upon closer inspection, it had become obvious that Cheyenne had external and internal injuries which we have decided not to describe here as it’s very upsetting.”
Cheyenne is a particularly vulnerable animal as she only has one eye and does not have many teeth left.
The sanctuary say she requires a “lot of TLC” in order to maintain her health.
The centre said: “No one can be sure exactly what has happened, but it is a distinct possibility that this injury was inflicted on her by a person and it seems some sort of object has been inserted in her.
“Police have been out and they were incredibly kind and took a lot of time to help us search the field for anything she could have injured herself on. Several people have searched the field and no one can find anything.”
Other animal residents at the sanctuary have been checked and are unharmed, however staff say they are now “sick worry about the uncertainty of what’s happened to our girl”.
They added: “She is meant to be safe in our sanctuary and she shouldn’t have had to go through this.”
The horse is now on strong antibiotics with the vet keeping a close eye on her.
Police say an investigation has been carried out but officers have yet been able to establish criminality.
The sanctuary raised an appeal for any witnesses to come forward and any donations towards the costs of the vet bills.
They said: “We feel rather helpless and it makes you realise how fragile everything is. The only thing we can practically do is review all our security measures and warn other horse owners to be extra vigilant.
“If anyone saw anything odd around or on the 1st of August, please let us know.”
In a Facebook post thanking members of the public for their support, they wrote: “Thank you to everyone who has made a donation to our vet bill and been so supportive over what’s happened to our poor girl.
“It’s been really hard to get our heads around the fact that someone could be so unbelievably cruel to such a vulnerable pony at a sanctuary (or any animal anywhere for that matter).
“Lots of people have been asking if they can bring her treats or feed so we’ve put together a list of what she can eat: speedibeet, alfalfa pellets, grass nuts, any sort of horse treat that can be soaked and added to her feed.
“She can’t eat apples or carrots because of her lack of teeth.
“We are making sure that she gets all the time and space that she needs to heal mentally as well as physically so she won’t be in the stables tomorrow but she will instead be out in the field as we don’t want to stress her.
“She’s still on antibiotics and painkillers and we are keeping a close eye on her. Her recovery is going well so far and our vet will be back on Tuesday to give her a health check.”
Willows is a sanctuary for many elderly animals who may be unlikely to find a home elsewhere, some of which have suffered abuse and exploitation.
The sanctuary includes a cat hotel, a donkey barn and a wildlife pond with a coffee shop and wildlife walk for visitors.
Their memorial garden was inspired by a dedication from Sir Paul McCartney for his late wife Linda, with a plaque from Paul commemorating her as the ‘Animal’s Angel’.
In response to Tuesday’s incident, a Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Around 8.30am on Tuesday, August 1, a report was made to police that a horse had been found injured at an animal sanctuary in New Pitsligo, Fraserburgh.
“Enquiries were carried out, however, at this time no criminality has been established.”
You can find out more and support the sanctuary here.