A spate of crimes by local youths attempting to steal and harm ponies from a rescue centre in Hale, near Liverpool has forced the charity to appeal for donations to help improve security.

In the latest attack last week (9 July) Angel, a 11.2hh Welsh Section A was dragged across a field by teenagers by a rope held tightly round her neck.

The incident was witnessed by a neighbour, who scared off the gang of 5 girls and boys, aged 14-15 years.

The centre’s manager, Sarah McKenzie, said teenagers from the local Speke estate have lassoed ponies before and let them out of fields, but never cut through fencing until now.

“In all my 22 years of being here, we’ve never had problems like this,” she said.

With the school holidays approaching, McKenzie is “very worried” the problems are “going to get worse.”

Three Shetland ponies, including Billy (pictured top), were stolen from the centre recently. Police found one, and a member of the public reported the whereabouts of the other two several hours later.

The rescue centre is right next to a public footpath.

There are more than 85 horses kept at the centre on 53 acres across 5 sites. McKenzie wants to put up 6ft fencing round the perimeter, but admits it will be “very costly.”

PC Stuart Twiss of Widnes Neighbourhood Policing Unit said: “The behaviour of those involved is despicable and I would like to reassure people that we are doing all we can to try and trace whoever is responsible.”

Anyone with any information should call Cheshire Police on 101 quoting incident number 941 of 9 July. Information can also be left anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.

For more information visit: www.shetlandanimalrescue.co.uk