Champ the pony won their hearts but they could not save him
Champ fought hard for his life. But the pony foal, trapped in a flooded field outside Waterford city, didn't make it.
No one knows how long Champ was in trouble but when Waterford Animal Welfare (WAW) came on the scene it was clear the six-month-old pony was teetering between life and death.
But his spirit was still strong. Champ was as good a name as any, his rescuers figured.
"He was in an awful situation, we thought he was dead. He was lying in a flooded field right beside an overflowing stream in horrendous conditions. He was exhausted and hungry," said Andrew Quinn, chairman of WAW.
"He fell down after succumbing to the elements and wasn't able to get back up and his legs had been attacked by dogs. He was just six months old and too young to be away from his mother," he said.
Although Champ was immediately placed in intensive care and was rushed to the UCD Veterinary Hospital, he didn't survive.
Animal groups nationwide are increasingly concerned about the welfare of wildlife, agricultural stock and domestic animals.
They say that hundreds of animals are in a "fight for life" after the month of storms and heavy flooding.
Since Storm Desmond made landfall last December, animal welfare charities across the country, including Waterford, Limerick, Galway, Dublin, Cork and the midlands, have experienced a "massive surge" in reports of distressed animals marooned on swampy land, abandoned near overflowing rivers and lakes and washed up on our beaches.
Animal groups say some of those rescued over the festive period are suffering from malnourishment, dehydration, exhaustion and hypothermia.
Although the animal charities recognise that people are struggling to save their own homes and livelihoods from rising waters, they claim the plight of animals is being "ignored" by some emergency response teams.
They are calling on the Government to set up new sanctuaries to accommodate animals battling the elements.
Groups specialising in the welfare of horses are also urging the Government to enforce recently introduced legislation on micro-chipping.
Mr Quinn said: "We're overrun with calls at the moment, it's been absolutely manic over the Christmas period. Last week we were moving donkeys and got a call to rescue horses in the Portlaw area - they were tied to a tree during the storm and had been left there all night."
WAW has also tended to horses trapped by flooding in Dungarvan and Tramore.
So far they have rescued 12 animals from flooded areas across the county.
"As the weather continues to deteriorate and water levels continue to rise we are very concerned that more animals will die. We are appealing to people that if you see an animal in distress or danger to report it straight away," Mr Quinn said.
However, the biggest problem in Waterford at the moment is the risk to sea life.
"Seals are literally being blown out of the sea. They are exhausted, they can't rest and if they come ashore they are being tumbled around by large waves. We are trying desperately to save them," he added.
Mr Quinn says it is imperative that all large farm animals are checked twice a day.
"Any person that has an animal on land at this stage should be wide awake to the danger this weather poses."