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Pony set on fire 'could survive'

A starving pony set on fire and left to die while tethered by the roadside in Northern Ireland could survive, it was revealed tonight.

The docile grey animal is recovering at a Co Antrim sanctuary after it was doused in flammable liquid and set alight in Keady, Co Armagh.

He was saved after a quick-thinking neighbour saw the flames and threw a bucket of water over him, said Rebecca Cooper, the vet who treated the pony.

"He was tethered on the side of the road, he did not have a chance to make his escape," Ms Cooper said.

"Hopefully the pony will make a recovery but at this moment we will not be able to say how much damage was done."

Ms Cooper, from Armadale veterinary surgery in Armagh, added it was crucial that the woman who threw water over the pony acted so quickly.

The animal is 14 hands high and friendly, despite its emaciated state.

"It is a lovely little pony, very quiet and docile, with a lovely temperament," she added.

Police are still looking for the owner.

Insp Nigel Graham said: "This was an horrific incident where an already malnourished animal was subjected to horrendous treatment and only for the swift action of a community member could have sustained much more serious injuries.

"I would like to thank the community member who treated the horse for their swift actions and quick thinking.

"We are very keen to trace the owner of the horse and we would also like to speak to a number of youths who were seen in the area around the time of this incident."