RSPCA inspectors have appealed for information about a severely neglected pony which was discovered crawling with thousands of maggots and barely able to stand.
RSPCA inspector Nick Jones was called to a derelict farm building near Rodridge Cottage Farm at Wingate, County Durham, on Sunday, June 4.
He found the pony had collapsed, and had large wounds across its right side which were riddled with thousands of maggots.
The appalled animal cruelty investigator said: “This is as bad as it gets. Hand on heart this is the worst equine case I’ve ever seen.
“The right-hand side of the pony looked atrocious, with a 3in-thick line of maggots running the length of the neck.
“There were so many you could hear them. It sounded like the popping of a fizzy drink. It was grotesque.
“Even as an inspector who deals with neglect cases every day, this was devastating to see.
"The poor pony was on his feet when I arrived, but he was in such a bad way.”
The British Horse Society contacted the RSPCA after being alerted to the two-year-old animal's suffering by a member of the public.
Inspector Jones immediately contacted a vet, who shaved the pony’s mane around the affected area and treated the wounds.
“He was then taken to a British Horse Society stables for recovery, but sadly he didn’t make it," said Inspector Jones.
"He was too far gone and his wounds were too severe. It is heartbreaking.
“We have no idea how long he had been there or the cause of his wounds, but it is very clear that the pony had been severely neglected by his owner.
"We are now appealing to anyone who may have information on how the pony came to be in this state to do the right thing and contact us."
Anyone with information can call the RSPCA appeal line on 0300 123 8018 and ask to leave a message for Inspector Nick Jones.