Firefighters rescue half-tonne mare from pool


NORTH WILTSHIRE, P.E.I. – A horse named Shanty is back in the pastures of rural Prince Edward Island thanks to the heavy lifting skills of a team of volunteer firefighters who pulled her from a frigid swimming pool on Wednesday night.

North River fire chief Anson Grant says it wasn’t easy for his team to haul an animal weighing half a metric tonne after the 33-year-old mare wandered into an in-ground swimming pool in North Wiltshire, about 20 kilometres west of Charlottetown.

Grant says the struggling and soaking mare didn’t make the effort easy, requiring the firefighters to loop leather harnesses around her so they could heave together as a group.

“Once we had straps around her, about a dozen of us were able to pull her out. But it took all our might for sure,” he said in a telephone interview.

Sgt. Leanne Butler says she and another RCMP officer responded to the scene and made calls to veterinarians, who came and treated the horse for hypothermia and abrasions.

Owner Mike Arsenault says he’s still watching Shanty to ensure the beloved family pet — who his wife Catherine used to ride — doesn’t develop pneumonia.

But he said she seemed frisky in the morning, and cantered out of the barn back towards the pasture where she usually strolls.

Arsenault praised the firefighters, neighbours, vets and police who helped with the emergency.

He said the horse had escaped through a hole in the fence in the evening and had walked onto the pool thinking it was a place for a drink.

The tarp pulled her legs down, leaving Shanty submerged for close to an hour. After she was brought to safety, Shanty rested for an hour before standing up and walking into the barn.

“I’m ecstatic. She’s outside right now, eating hay like nothing happened,” he said.

“I’ve had her 26 years. She’s a member of my family.”

— By Michael Tutton in Halifax