23/08/2017 Sparrow Rescue Update

When he arrived in mid-March along with two pregnant fillies, Inca and Puffin, after being rescued from a roadside in Somerset, this little fellow was in bad shape. Rescued by Highways England and referred to us by Avon & Somerset Police, he was just a baby, 9 months old, with a long fluffy coat concealing the horrid truth; he was a bag of bones, he had no flesh on his ribs or his pelvis and appeared to be blind in one eye. 

With a body condition score of just 0.5 / 5 it was difficult to understand how he had managed to survive, but that is exactly what he did, and with the generosity of many of our supporters in response to our appeal for help, he continues to do so to this day. It hasn’t been straightforward and Sparrow must show the same courage he has in the past 5 months in the days to come ready for his next challenges.

Sparrow was riddled with parasites and getting him back to health is a long drawn out process. Apart from his emaciation, his main battle was with worms and even with repeated worming treatments it took until early August before his weight was approaching normal. The medication attaches itself to body fat, but Sparrow had none so it meant the treatment was struggling to take full effect. He was a skeleton with a pot belly and it took a lot of specialist help from the Moredun Institute and our wonderful Hall Place Equine Vets, Tony and Clare, for him to make progress.

As early as April he was getting his first grass, very limited grazing but we could tell he liked his food and that presents a challenge. In his starved condition, he could only be allowed to eat very little at a time, re-feeding syndrome is potentially fatal. What was lovely though was seeing Sparrow, Inca and Puffin in the paddock, it was clear they all enjoyed having grass under their feet again and the reassurance of each other’s’ familiar company.

His companions, Inca and Puffin were both heavily pregnant when they arrived with us. Inca was very underweight and Puffin had cripplingly long feet and a deep fear of humans. Despite arriving in such poor health, Inca gave birth in May to a beautiful, healthy filly foal. Inca and her foal Phoenix are doing extremely well but sadly for Puffin, only two years old herself, there were complications and her foal didn’t make it.

As Spring turned to Summer, Sparrow’s battle with worms went on, but as he gained a little weight so the treatment became more effective and at the start of August with his weight almost normal and his wormy passengers almost completely gone we started to plan for the day he would be strong enough for the surgery he needs to remove his deformed right eye. The RVC Equine Ophthalmology Team had visited him in Spring and confirmed that although that eye is unsavable the left side is working well and there are no underlying problems so he will be better off without it.

Approaching ideal weight, becoming an energetic yearling and with a plan in place, Sparrow very suddenly developed a large sinister lump on his left fore. X-rays showed a mass around his bone, a very large mass. Vet Clare popped a Robert Jones bandage on to be on the safe side and Sparrow was confined to box rest while we awaited a specialist's opinion. The team were on tenterhooks. Thankfully for this brave boy it turned out to be a very large bone splint and while he will always have the lump on his leg it is completely harmless. After the terrible time he’s been through he deserved some good news.

He’s still on box rest while the bone splint settles but Puffin is keeping him company and doing a wonderful job as part nanny, part big sister. They’ve been inseparable since they arrived. They even meet visitors now and Puffin no longer shows any fear of people at all, in fact she and Sparrow both love the cuddles they get on our opening days.

So, for little Jack Sparrow it appears it’s onwards and upwards, although his good health means we’re now back to planning his operation for the Autumn when he'll be castrated and have his deformed eye removed at the same time. It is a lot to go through for a little chap but we're so proud of him getting to this stage from the emaciated, worm ridden, frightened little boy that arrived just a few months ago.