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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 August, 2003, 05:43 GMT 06:43 UK
Pony injured by 'big cat'
Mischief and Liz Lavers
Liz Lavers said Mischief has been attacked twice in two years
A vet is convinced that horrific wounds inflicted on a pony in Devon were caused by a big cat.

Three-year-old palomino Mischief was left scarred for life after an attack in a field in the South Brent area a week ago.

There have been reported sightings of a cat in the area previously, but nothing has ever been proven.

Mischief's owner Liz Lavers said this was not the first time the pony had been attacked.

She said: "When we found him, he was a quivering wreck.

"He was afraid to move and in a total state of shock, with his back legs badly damaged and puncture wounds to his neck.

"This isn't the first time. He was attacked a year ago, more or less to the week.

Mischief's legs
Mischief's legs will be scarred for the rest of his life

"Next year, I'm worried I'll find a dead pony, or possibly worse, a dead child. That's how I see it."

In the last few weeks, there have been two sightings of a puma-like creature.

Several years ago the area was sealed off and police marksmen were called in to track down what was believed to be a lion which was roaming the area, but no animal was found.

Local vet Steve Grills, who treated Mischief's injuries, said he was convinced the injuries "were the work of a puma or other large cat".

"Basically the reason for this is the number of scratch marks on the animal's back legs reaching quite high.

"It's not something you'd expect a smaller animal to have done."

Ms Lavers and her family say they are delighted that Mischief is making a full recovery.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Alex Bushill
"If local people are to be believed, this is perfect big cat country"



SEE ALSO:
Big cat report sparks search
25 Aug 03  |  Shropshire
'Big cat' excites experts
12 Aug 03  |  Cornwall
'We'll prove big cats roam UK'
19 Jul 03  |  Devon


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