A grandmother was shocked to discover a young colt dumped in her back garden after her granddaughter responded to an online plea to find him a home.

The 13-year-old had replied to a post on a free ads site that said the animal’s owner didn’t want him any more and would put him to sleep if no one could take him in.

RSPCA inspector Charlotte Melvin, who was called to the Stoke-on-Trent home on 27 April to assess the coloured youngster, explained that the girl had “given her nan’s address” to the unknown woman.

“The next thing that happened was a man just came along and dumped the pony there, no words of advice or anything like that — leaving a very shocked nan,” she said.

The grandmother contacted World Horse Welfare (WHW), whose officer Rachel Andrews asked the RSPCA to attend as they were closer to the site and she thought the pony should be urgently assessed.

He was found to be skinny and covered in mites. WHW arranged for him to be transported to a private boarding yard.

“We don’t know where this poor pony came from, but he clearly was not treated well before being abandoned,” inspector Melvin said. “We have come to a dead end in trying to find out further information so we are appealing for anybody who can help us to get in touch.”

The pony, who has been named Mr Melvin Andrews after the charities’ field officers, is now in the care of WHW, who fear the incident could be the start of a new trend.

“We’re seeing sick or young ponies being dumped and abandoned when their owners no longer want them, and it would be a worry if online free ad sites are used in this way. Many provide advice on the commitment required to take on a horse,” Ms Andrews said.

“Every horse and pony deserves responsible ownership, which includes responsible breeding, selling and rehoming.

“We’re just glad that Melvin the pony has settled in well at our Penny Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre and has already shown himself to be lovely a little pony. We hope in time we can find him a good home.”

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Anyone who has any information should call the RSPCA’s appeals line on 0300 123 8018 or World Horse Welfare on 08000 480 180.

The unusual abandonment follows last month’s RSPCA awareness drive over the equine crisis, when the charity revealed that the number of horses rescued has reached a four-year high.

Nearly 1,000 horses were rescued by the RSPCA from cruelty, suffering and neglect last year (2017), and a 928 horses are currently in the charity’s care.

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