COROLLA, N.C. — A filly that developed a bone infection damaging her hoof and leg had to be euthanized, the Corolla Wild Horse Fund said Friday.
Ceres, who was just six weeks old, came into contact with pythiosis fungus and because her immune system wasn't developed, it did major damage.
The CWHF post said staff members saw her as recently as Sept. 10, and she was behaving normally then.
By Sept. 12, someone saw a lesion on one of her front hooves, but they weren't able to capture her. The fund reached out to a veterinarian at a Raleigh animal hospital who was ready to help, but it took until Sept. 20 to find and catch Ceres.
Her hoof was coming off, and the damage to her leg bones was irreparable, a staff member wrote.
"She was in a great deal of pain and while on one hand, it is always difficult to make the decision to euthanize, in a case like this we knew there was no other choice and that it was the right thing to do - beyond the shadow of a doubt," the post said. "Ceres was laid to rest late last night next to the mares’ pasture, so that she’ll always have her aunts looking over her."
The CWHF said the rest of the herd is doing OK.
"Ceres’ mother called for her during the night, but as of right now they have all settled down and are grazing quietly," the fund wrote.
Pythiosis isn't contagious. It's a fungus that comes from decaying plants in water, which makes up a majority of these horses' habitat.
The fungus enters an animal's body through a cut, so it's especially important to clean up things in Outer Banks yards that could get tangled in a horse's legs. Unsafe fencing, trash, and wires are all dangerous for wild horses.
"When we don’t get solid freezes in the winter, bacteria, fungus, and other pathogens can grow rampantly. Unsettled weather patterns (flooding rain immediately followed by months of excessive heat) exacerbate the problem ... We are keeping our fingers crossed for a very cold winter," CWHF wrote.