The RSPCA is searching for the owner of a six-month-old pony that was dragged 600yards behind a car and then left to die under a tarpaulin, in Surrey.

When he was found the pony was underweight, dehydrated and too weak to stand or hold his head.

The RPSCA was informed of a colt, collapsed by the gate of a field at Thameside in Chertsey, Surrey at 9.50am on Wednesday 26 January.

But when RSPCA inspector Nicky Thorne arrived at the field, near Chertsey Lock, only 20 minutes later there was no sign of the animal.

It appears that someone tied the pony’s front legs together and dragged him 600yards behind a car. They then threw tarpaulin over him, covered it with rocks and stones and left him to die.

A witness said two people had driven onto the land and dragged the pony behind a black car — leaving the animal out of sight of the road at the other end of the field.

“I expected to find a dead body but nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to see, even after years in this job,” said Inspector Thorne.

“There was a tarpaulin which was covered in logs and stones. As I pulled it back there was a pony, weak, barely alive and terrified, just dumped under a plastic sheet and left to die in the dark with his front legs strapped together. His head was twisted around over his back where it had flopped as he was dragged and he was too weak to move it back to a comfortable position himself.”

Despite efforts by the RSPCA and the fire service to carry the young black and white colt to a lorry and transport him to a nearby vets, the animal, whom RSPCA officers named Babe, died shortly after their arrival.

A post mortem examination revealed he had bad diarrhoea, was dehydrated and had worms.

Inspector Thorne said: “I cannot even try to comprehend the terror and pain that poor creature must have endured being dragged across the field, covered over and left in the darkness.

“The field appears to have been rented and lots of different people kept their horses and ponies there so someone must know who this foal belonged to and how he came to be in such a poor state.”

Under the Animal Welfare Act, those found guilty of abandoning or neglecting an animal can face a fine of up to £20,000 and/or six months in prison.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.