A South Yorkshire animal sanctuary is in mourning after the death of one of its oldest residents – 26-year-old shire horse George.
Animal lover Mary Hepworth opened Alberts Horse Sanctuary in 2005 with husband John and daughters Mary-Anne and Stacey to care for animals who were no longer wanted and faced being put down.
And George was one of the Cawthorne-based shelter’s very first rescues after a brewery in Tadcaster sent him to a sale in York to be sold for dog food.
“He was in a really bad way when he first came to us, through neglect, but we just fell in love with him,” Mary said.
“He was such a gentle giant and everybody who knew him loved him so much – he was so special.
“He collapsed in the field last week and, as he was so big, we were forced to call the fire brigade who sent out a team of fire officers to come and help us lift him back to the stable.
“The vet washed out his bust eye – which happened when he fell – gave him a steroid injection and we made him comfortable.
“We expected him to be up and about again in a couple of days, but the next morning, we found he’d died, it’s a really sad loss.”
Mary and her family are now making an urgent appeal for donations after being left with a £1,500 vet bill and no way to pay.
Mary, who admits her family have previously gone without food to make sure there is enough for the animals, added: “The harsh reality is that we are entirely self-funded and without the support of the public, there’s no way we could continue to do what we do.
“I would like to say a huge thank you to all readers who have supported us over the years.
“This has been a particularly harsh winter and anything you can give would be a massive help as food supplies are always low.”
n To make a donation to the sanctuary, contact Mary on 07721 327879 or write to Alberts Horse Sanctuary, South Lane, Cawthorne. Barnsley S75 4EF.