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Dr. Carmen Franck Vaughan and "Ditch Pony"

AMELIA COUNTY, Va. — Dr. Carmen Franck Vaughan would like you to read this article and spread the word. The Amelia County veterinarian would like to find the person who left a sick pony in the mud — to die.

Amelia Animal Control officer Brian Wootten called Vaughan after he discovered the sick animal last week.

“[The pony was] abandoned in a muddy ditch on a back road, left to die,” Dr. Vaughan wrote on Facebook. “We got him back to the hospital and the weakness that should have resolved with warmth and hydration remained, and it became obvious that this pony wasn’t just cold and weak, he was neurologic.”

Tests later confirmed the pony was sick with a parasite called Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis, or EPM.

EPM is contracted through opossum feces left on the ground and ingested by horses while eating grass.

“After ingestion, it can migrate to the spinal cord and if this occurs it causes paralysis that worsens and spreads the longer the parasites go untreated,” Dr. Vaughan said.

Dr. Vaughan said she assumed when the pony’s owners noticed he was getting sick, they decided to abandoned him rather than pay for medical care. Medical care Dr. Vaughan is now providing.

Dr. Carmen Franck Vaughan and "Ditch Pony"

Dr. Carmen Franck Vaughan and “Ditch Pony”

“This little guy has something treatable and should be able to at least lead a happy life even if he may not be able to be ridden or driven,” she said. “[He] will be in the hospital for probably at least 60 days and we are looking hard to find his owners.”

Officer Wootten is heading up the investigation into finding the pony’s owners.

“We don’t have too many leads now so trying to get the information out,” he said. “There was nothing out there around the pony. No tires tracks, no hoof prints.”

Vaughan has nicknamed the 16-year-old pony “Ditch Pony” or “DP” for short.

Anyone with information was asked to call Amelia Animal Control at 804-561-3878.