A 19-year-old Shetland has been left “really distressed” following a suspected dog attack at Devon’s largest horse rescue centre.

The Mare & Foal Sanctuary has appealed to people to keep their dogs under control after finding mare Chloe with deep wounds earlier this week.

The Shetland’s groom Amy Dearlove noticed the injuries — which appeared consistent with a dog attack — when she brought her in from the field.

“It was a real shock. There was quite a few deep wounds and poor Chloe was obviously really distressed,” she said.

“We managed to calm her down. She was pretty shaken up and she’s going to need weeks of treatment and care.”

Chloe is one of the oldest and smallest residents at the centre’s retirement yard in South Manor near Newton Abbot.

“She really didn’t deserve this,” Amy added. “She’s such a brave little thing and we’re going to give her the best care possible.”

It’s thought a dog may have jumped a fence or got under a gate on a footpath near the premises.

The sanctuary’s executive director Syra Bowden reminded dog owners that it is their responsibility to keep their pets away from vulnerable animals such as sheep, horses and ponies.

“We’re helping the police track down the owner because, if it was a dog attack, we’re worried it may strike again,” she said.

“When people think of dogs attacking animals they automatically think of sheep. But Chloe is only 31 inches tall and could easily be brought down by a large dog. It’s a miracle her injuries weren’t worse.”

Chloe suffered several deep cuts to her left side near her stifle and several smaller lacerations to her right side, as well as serious bruising.

She is expected to make a full recovery, but will still endure “weeks of pain” as a result of the attack.

Syra added: “We are a rescue charity and all our ponies come to us for safety and security and, in the case of South Manor, to live out their last days in peace.

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“Chloe loves sharing a cup of tea and is such a brave, independent little mare. We’re really hoping this doesn’t affect her loving and happy nature.”

Police are appealing for witnesses to the incident, which is thought to have taken place on Sunday night or Monday morning (13-14 May). Anyone who might have seen anything can call 101, quoting crime reference number CR/041844/18.

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