Relief as missing ponies deliberately set free are found safe
- Credit: Nicky Cleaver
A young autistic boy from Suffolk is all smiles again after being left heartbroken when his beloved pet pony wandered off when the gates to its paddock were deliberately left open.
Noah Cleaver of Battisford was devastated after Paddington and his fellow miniature Shetland pony Pepsi disappeared from the field at Battisford, near Stowmarket, on the evening of Tuesday March 17.
Noah’s mum Nicky Cleaver said she feared the gates had been opened deliberately - they were also left open at Christmas last year, just days after the same happened to another horseowner in the village.
She discovered the ponies were missing and after an appeal on social media was innundated with offers of help as villagers joined the search.
It was called off around midnight and Nicky and her family - husband Wayne and children Vesper, aged six, and five-year-old Noah - spent an anxious night before it could begin again.
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The runaways were spotted early the following morning by local farmer Martin Knock, who saw them heading towards Straight Road in the village just two fields away from their paddock.
Together with Battisford resident Tracey Cutting they were able to tether the ponies and return them to the Cleavers.
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Nicky said: “The response of the community has been absolutely fantastic, people really rallied round to help us and they were brilliant, we are so grateful to everyone.
“Noah has autism and Paddington is his best friend, he was beside hmself that he had gone missing but he is so much happier now that he is back.”
Mrs Cleaver said it was extremely reckless to leave livestock gates open on purpose.
“The people doing it might think it’s just a bit of fun but it’s so dangerous and irresponsible,” she said.
“Anything could happen. They could be hit by a car, fall into a ditch or end up being poisoned and killed by eating the wrong thing.”
Straight Road is a 60mph road and Sergeant Brian Calver of the Suffolk police Rural and Wildlife Policing Team said the consequences of a vehicle hitting one of the animals at speed could have been “incredibly serious”.
He said: “Deliberately letting livestock out is a ridiculously irresponsible thing to do.
“Not only are you putting the animals in danger from all kinds of risks but also motorists as well. The effect of a vehicle hitting an animal in the road could be incredibly serious.”
Sgt Calver urged people keeping livestock to ensure gates were padlocked so they could not be tampered with.