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Phoenix dies at Redwings Horse Sanctuary in Hapton following suspected arson attack



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A foal recovering at a Hapton-based horse sanctuary after suffering horrific burns in a suspected arson attack has died of its injuries.

Phoenix, a 15-week-old colt, arrived at Redwings Horse Sanctuary in August after being found on a roadside in Kent with second and third-degree burns covering one whole side of his body.

Since his arrival he had been receiving round-the-clock care at Redwings, but died following a vital procedure last week.

Phoenix was left with severe second and third degree burns. Picture: Redwings Horse Sanctuary (52651366)
Phoenix was left with severe second and third degree burns. Picture: Redwings Horse Sanctuary (52651366)

“It’s hard to describe how devastating Phoenix’s loss has been for everyone at Redwings," said Chief Executive Lynn Cutress.

“Since he arrived, our vet team, in particular, had dedicated themselves 24 hours a day to his care and in the process discovered an affectionate little pony with one of the biggest hearts we had ever seen.

"Simply put, we all fell in love with him, and we all miss him dreadfully."

Staff at Redwings had to re-bandage Phoenix as often as once a day. Picture: Redwings Horse Sanctuary (52651370)
Staff at Redwings had to re-bandage Phoenix as often as once a day. Picture: Redwings Horse Sanctuary (52651370)

When Phoenix arrived at Redwings, the extent to his burns had left him incredibly painful wounds and without much of his hair and mane.

In the following two months, staff at Redwings applied bandages to almost his entire body every one to two days. Under his dressings his skin had fallen away leaving a painful, red raw surface that was open to infection.

A weekly blog was set up to detail the Phoenix's progress, which inspired members of the public to send in their own bandage designs – from colourful rainbows, a Harry Potter’s marauder’s map and stripes of a tiger – which the foal could be seen wearing in pictures shared to Redwings' social media accounts.

People from across Norfolk and Suffolk sent in bandage desings for Phoenix to wear as he tried to recover. Picture: Redwings Horse Sanctuary (52651368)
People from across Norfolk and Suffolk sent in bandage desings for Phoenix to wear as he tried to recover. Picture: Redwings Horse Sanctuary (52651368)

It soon became clear that his extensive wounds had healed as best they could and that they would never recover sufficiently to allow him to live a good quality of life in the future unless further intervention was taken.

After consulting with several burns experts, it was decided that the best option was to give Phoenix a skin graft – or otherwise he would have to live with bandages for many months and be left with paper-thin scar tissue that would severely restrict his movement.

The procedure involved removing a thin layer of healthy skin from his abdomen and using that to create grafts which would be applied to his severe burns.

Superman and Harry Potter themed designs were suggested for Phoenix to wear. Picture: Redwings Horse Sanctuary (52651373)
Superman and Harry Potter themed designs were suggested for Phoenix to wear. Picture: Redwings Horse Sanctuary (52651373)

On Tuesday October 19, a leading veterinary surgeon from the Netherlands, who specialises in animal wounds and healing, joined the Redwings vet team to perform the vital procedure at the Horse Hospital at the sanctuary in Hopton.

Sadly, Phoenix did not recover from the general anaesthetic, which was an essential part of the procedure.

Ms Cutress added: “It was obvious that he was desperate to live the life of a normal pony his age and we felt he deserved that chance.

"Performing surgery on any animal carries risks but we knew, and all the experts agreed, that without going forward with skin graft treatment, he would never enjoy the quality of life he deserved."

Plans are underway to scatter Phoenix’s ashes in the Memory Garden at Redwings Caldecott visitor centre, near Fritton, whilst a permanent memorial will be placed at their Hapton headquarters, where Phoenix lived.



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