The search for a beloved elderly Shetland pony ‘stolen’ from his paddock appears to have ended in heartbreak.
Police are investigating the disappearance of Peter Pumpkin from his Preston home over the weekend after a gate to his paddock was found smashed.
His family, who have had Peter, 33, since he was just two years old, launched a desperate appeal for help finding him after he vanished from his pen.
They say the ‘old lad’ becomes ‘worried and confused’ when he is away from his friends.
But in a tragic turn, search teams have revealed claims Peter did not survive after he was taken by ‘four youths,’ Hull Live reports.
The much-loved pony vanished from his paddock off Preston, East Riding of Yorkshire, overnight Saturday.
A huge social media appeal was launched as the owners desperately pleaded for whoever had taken him to return him home safely.
But in the latest update on the investigation, a tweet from Missing Pets GB on Tuesday has suggested Peter did not survive after being taken by “four youths.”
Appearing to relay a message from the owners, it says: “We are very grateful to everybody that has helped us search for our beloved Peter.
“He has now been found and sadly it is not good news. Please bear with us whilst we grieve our loss.”
The owner earlier this week said she was concerned for her beloved Peter’s safety.
She said: “Peter has been with us since he was two and was my daughter’s first pony.
“On Sunday morning I discovered the kissing gate had been smashed down at Cranswick end of the foot path across our field. Two ponies were returned to their field but Peter remains missing.
“We are really concerned as he is very old and the weather has been so hot. He was wearing a grey fly rug as he is allergic to midges.
“He also has very poor dentition on his front teeth due to his age so needs regularly checking.”
The gate into the paddock was broken open and Peter was later caught on CCTV being led away by four youths.
In an appeal, the owner said: “To the four people who have taken him. He is a very, very old lad. We have owned him for 31 years. He is vulnerable and seeks his security from the two ponies he was with.
“He gets worried and confused if he’s not with his friends. We don’t want his last days to be somewhere he is not familiar. We want him back with us. Please let him live out his old age where he feels safe with his friends.”
PCSO Darren Bainton, of Humberside Police, confirmed the search had ended in tragedy, without expanding on the deails.
He said: “It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we must share the tragic news of Peter Pumpkin the Shetland pony.
“We would like to thank all those who searched for him, especially to the members of our equestrian community & to you all for sharing the appeal.
“Our sincere Condolences goes out to all. The family who are very grateful to everybody that has helped to search for their beloved pony, Peter.
“The investigation continues to find those involved, we urge anyone with information to contact the Police on 101 quote 16/72507/21.”