The owner of a filly who was found with part of her tongue and one ear missing after a suspected dog attack is now enjoying life and “very happy”.
Christine McEvoy’s two-month-old part-bred Shetland foal Cupid was found covered in maggots, and with her other ear badly injured, in the New Forest in August.
The filly had been in the forest with her dam Starlight and Christine’s other ponies but one morning, was nowhere to be seen.
Christine and a friend covered miles in their search for the foal, whose dam was with the herd and “calling and calling for her”, but it was “like looking for a needle in a haystack” in the forest.
“I think the dogs had driven her off and she couldn’t find her way back to the herd,” Christine told H&H.
“Then my friend heard the mare start calling, and she up and went. He followed her – and found the foal.”
Cupid was in a “dreadful state”.
“Both her ears had been seemingly chewed off and what was left was completely flyblown,” Christine said.
“She had puncture wounds on her jaw and neck, and scars on her body, but bless her, she was still trying to feed from her mum. It was only later we discovered she had lost the bottom of her tongue which was why she couldn’t feed.”
Vet Peter Tunney, director of Seadown Equine, said locum Elaine Horan, who first saw Cupid, was “shocked” by her injuries.
“She had never seen so many maggots in a wound in her life and wasn’t sure Cupid would survive the ordeal,” he said, adding that the trauma to the foal’s ears meant she was in too much pain to hold her head under the mare to suckle.
But Cupid behaved well as her wounds were treated, and thanks to the use of antitoxins, insecticides and painkillers, as well as Christine’s milking the mare and feeding her from a bucket, not to mention diligent nursing, she has recovered well.
“She wouldn’t have survived had it not been for the effort put in by Christine,” Peter said. “It was a very good example of owner-vet collaboration.
“If you can prepare wounds so nature can take its course, it’s amazing how that will happen and they’ll heal – and often, if owners are willing to put time and effort into some cases that look beyond redemption, they can recover.”
Cupid’s remaining ear was so badly damaged, it hangs down by her face, but Christine said she is otherwise back to her old self.
“I asked the vet what the chances were of her having a life,” she said.
“Cupid wouldn’t be here without Seadown, and she definitely has got a life. She gallops round the field, and she’s in love with two donkeys I’ve got here.
“I don’t know how she pushed through but she did, she’s marvellous; she’s really happy.”
Both Peter and Christine emphasised the importance of keeping dogs under control.
“We will never know what exactly happened, but the only sensible answer is that it must have been a dog and I just hope all dog owners will be sensible in future and keep dogs on leads around forest stock,” Christine said.
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