‘I burst out crying’: happy tears as owner is reunited with pony stolen eight months ago

  • The owner of a 16-year-old pony who was stolen last summer said it feels “unreal” to be reunited, eight months later.

    Miniature Shetland mare Maisey disappeared from her field in Castle Combe, near Chippenham, Wiltshire, on 12 July. Maisey’s owner Allison Wood found “scrabble” marks, footprints and tyre tracks, and believed someone had taken Maisey away in a van.

    A poster with Maisey’s picture was shared thousands of times on social media but she was not found, until last week when Avon & Somerset Police received a call from a member of the public about a group of horses near the M5 in Avonmouth, Bristol.

    The RSPCA attended the scene, and asked HorseWorld for assistance with “one particular pony in very poor condition”.

    “We were asked if we could collect a severely underweight Shetland pony who had been abandoned,” said HorseWorld head of welfare Sarah Hollister.

    “We were already at capacity, with other rescues having been taken in just a few days before, but we knew we had to help.”

    A HorseWorld spokesman added that Maisey was in a “shocking state”.

    “Her winter coat was very fluffy but with further inspection, it was clear the mare was severely malnourished and emaciated, covered in lice and could be pregnant,” he said.

    “The RSPCA arranged for an equine vet to attend the site to examine Maisey prior to being transported to ensure she was fit to travel. The pony was rushed to the safety of HorseWorld where she was carefully settled into their emergency care unit and given the immediate lifesaving treatment by the equine welfare and veterinary team.”

    When RSPCA inspector Dan Hatfield processed the data from Maisey’s microchip, it was discovered that she had been reported as stolen.

    “Maisey has quite distinctive markings and as I was looking over photographs of the rescue, they triggered a memory of something I had seen on social media,” said HorseWorld chief executive Petra Ingram.

    “With a little more delving it quickly transpired that HorseWorld had shared a Facebook post about Maisey’s theft in July 2023. We immediately telephoned colleagues at the RSPCA and shared the amazing news that we believed we had identified not only the pony, but where she had originally come from too.”

    Maisey was reunited with Allison on Wednesday (6 March).

    “It feels unreal to have Maisey home. When Dan phoned I just burst out crying; I didn’t say anything. I’ve had people in the village crying when I’ve told them,” she said.

    “Holly, her fieldmate, will be over the moon. But without the microchip, and the amazing work of everyone involved, we would have never got her back.”

    Mr Hatfield said it is “absolutely wonderful to be part of bringing Maisey back home so many months after she was stolen”.

    “When we rescued her in such a sorry state last week, we had no idea that she would turn out to be a much-loved, missing pet,” he said.

    “This is a fantastic example of how vital it is that we microchip our pets – without this, Maisey may never have found her way back home to her owners, and I am so happy to witness them being reunited today. It was a special moment for us all.”

    PC Jess Swanborough of Chippenham Neighbourhood Policing Team was there when Maisey was returned to Allison.

    “It was so lovely to see Maisey come home and her owner was absolutely delighted to have her back safely,” she said.

    “We are extremely grateful to the member of the public who reported their concerns to Avon and Somerset Police. We are so pleased this case has had a happy ending – it shows the importance of chipping your animals so if anything like this does happen, the chances of the animal being located and returned safely are much greater.”

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