Volunteers get stuck in rescuing horse after online SOS
A HORSE was saved from drowning in a muddy river after dozens of people answered an online SOS call.
The horse was found stuck up to its chest in muck in the River Swilly in Letterkenny, and officials from Donegal Pet Rescue were informed.
The group contacted gardai who began to make plans to rescue the horse -- but they were then called to another incident.
Donegal Pet Rescue decided to put out a call via the internet for help to launch a rescue mission. It was inundated with offers of help from people offering a range of solutions to free the horse.
It is understood that the animal became stranded after it wandered into the river, unaware that it was clogged by sticky mud.
First, a rope was tied around the horse and straps were fitted in a bid to pull it to safety.
However, as the horse struggled, it got deeper and deeper into the mud, and at one stage only its head and back could be seen.
Volunteers then used spades and other instruments to dig around the animal to make a pathway to freedom.
During the rescue effort a number of the volunteers put their own safety to one side and got stuck in the mud themselves.
What followed was a four-hour physical challenge, involving relays of people to drag the horse out of the muddy mire, inch by inch.
Ryan McCauley, of Donegal Pet Rescue, said it was amazing to watch the spirit of people coming together to rescue the helpless animal.
"It was incredible to watch people just come out of nowhere to help.
"I would know many of the people to see and they were from all walks of life. There were estate agents, builders and students standing side by side."
The exhausted horse was eventually pulled to safety -- but it looked for a while as if the rescuers' efforts had been in vain.
The horse lay on the ground for more than 20 minutes after its ordeal.
A vet from the Animal Health Centre in Ramelton, Anja Froehlich, then gave the horse injections to cover it for infections and stabilise its temperature.
The volunteers finally got the horse on to its feet, and washed it down. The animal was then put into a trailer and brought to the safety of a stable.
The horse is now back with its owners, who are understood to be part of the Traveller community. The rescue group said it had been told the horse would be looked after in future.
It was a victory for the human spirit, Mr McCauley said.
"These people put their own safety to one side to rescue this poor animal. It was heart-warming to see, and everyone felt so good after we had rescued the horse," he said.