Owners’ heartbreak as 28-year-old pony put down following shocking dog attack

  • An elderly pony savagely attacked by three dogs that entered his field has been put down leaving his owners devastated.

    Katie Leonard’s 28-year-old 12.2hh Welsh section A Joshua, who the family had owned for 22 years, was attacked on 11 December at their home in Conisbrough, Doncaster.

    Care home manager Katie told H&H her partner Jack heard dogs barking at about 11.30pm, and they could see torchlight outside.

    “We turned all the lights on inside and went out with a floodlight to scare them off. The torchlight disappeared towards the lane as if someone was running away,” she said.

    “We looked around and couldn’t see anyone or the dogs. We think it was poachers.”

    Joshua was found with multiple injuries and the vet was contacted.

    “He appeared to be in shock. He had wounds under his chin, on his neck, face, nose and shoulder. He also had a wound above his hoof that was down to the bone,” she said.

    **Warning: graphic image**

    “The vet said the injuries were extensive and caused by dogs. They had just missed Joshua’s jugular and it was touch and go.”

    Joshua had his wounds stitched and was on daily antibiotics and painkillers.

    “On reviewing our CCTV it shows three dogs coming on to our property, but the footage doesn’t cover the field. I don’t know if the person set the dogs on Joshua or if they just came across him,” said Katie.

    “All I keep thinking about is the attack, imagining what happened and the trauma he went through.”

    Katie said Joshua had been due to have his stitches removed on Christmas Eve, but the gelding’s condition deteriorated on Friday (18 December).

    “Joshua had been getting walked in hand twice a day to stop him getting stiff as he is used to being out but he had been starting to look depressed. When we went to give him his antibiotics we found him rocking on his back legs. My mum Sandra tried walking him but later we found him banging his head in the corner looking disorientated,” she said.

    “The vet came straight away but he was getting worse and worse. The vet said it was either liver failure from all the medication, or the infection had affected his brain. He said there was nothing more that could be done and if we gave Joshua another night we were likely to find him dead in the morning. He just couldn’t fight the infection.”

    Katie said her mum and Jack stayed with Joshua while he was put down.

    “We gave him a cuddle and I stayed in the field but I couldn’t watch. He had been an amazing pony, he was so headstrong and full of character. We believe if this hadn’t happened he would have lived another few happy years with us,” she said.

    “We are all absolutely devastated. Joshua had been our last pony, my mum has kept horses ponies here for 40 years and now we have nothing. I have mixed emotions, I’m heartbroken but so angry that people train dogs to do something like that, it could have been anything that they ripped to shreds – but it was our pony.”

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    A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police told H&H officers are appealing for information.

    “A review of CCTV footage showed three dogs enter the paddock through a hedge. Torchlight can also be seen in the distance along the property boundary. Due to the poor quality of the footage, identification of any offenders has not been possible,” he said.

    “If you have any information that could help the investigation, please call 101 quoting incident number 263 of 11 December 2020.”

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