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Owner’s plea to litterers after pony swallows dog poo bag

The owner of an Exmoor pony who ate a dog poo bag that stretched to 27 inches long as it made its way through his system has urged walkers to think before littering.

Perth-based Rachael McLean was poo-picking the field in which she keeps her gelding Archie and miniature Shetland yearling Rodney on 3 May when she discovered the bag.

“I poo-pick every day and it was the second-last one and as I was picking it up the bag was all the way through it,” she told H&H.

“I had a tape measure in the car and when I measured it I found it had stretched to 27 inches long – it was a bit of a shock. I hosed it out and you could see quite clearly it was a dog poo bag with two handles.”

Rachael said her triangular-shaped field is the furthest from the livery yard, with a public right of way on one side and a road on another.

“Since the lockdown we’ve seen so much more footfall on the rights of way. There are a lot of tracks round about us but not many bins so it seems to have caused lots of people to leave bags,” she said.

“A friend picked up 10 bags full of poo from the nearby tracks over the weekend. I don’t think people are thinking about what they’re doing.”

Rachael said Archie was fine after passing the bag but on advice from her vet, she and other liveries checked him every couple of hours throughout the evening for signs of colic.

“I can’t believe it went through him like that. I’m relieved it wasn’t Rodney as I don’t know if he would have survived that being so small” she said. “When I went to check on Archie later he had done two poos and the vet reassured me if his poos were clear he had more than likely passed the full bag.

“Archie had been acting a bit strange and quieter for a few days before the incident but he had lost a field mate, DJ, the previous week so I thought it was because of that but now I wonder if he had been feeling uncomfortable because of the bag.”

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Rachael said despite having signs on her gates asking the public not to touch the horses, there has been an increase of people feeding her ponies, and litter on the ground.

“In December I found jelly beans at the gate and on other occasions I’ve found small chopped-up pieces of carrot which they could choke on. I’ve added more signs since Covid-19 but I feel at my wits’ end with it,” she said.

“I think the bag has possibly blown from the track into the field and I don’t think it was malicious ­– but you never know. I’ve emailed the council requesting some more bins to be put in the area to try to stop this from happening. I’m a bit upset thinking it could have been so much worse. People need to realise where things end up when they litter.”

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