Meet Molly the pony. She’s a gray speckled pony who was abandoned by her owners when Hurricane Katrina hit southern Louisiana .
Molly then spent weeks on her own following the 2005 catastrophe before finally being rescued and taken to a farm where abandoned animals were stockpiled.
While there, she was attacked by a pit bull terrier and almost died.
Back from the dead: Molly understands she’s injured and has changed her behaviour to accommodate her injury
Her right front leg was terribly damaged and became infected. Vets thought that was it and Molly looked to be on her way to the knackers yard.
But then surgeon Rustin Moore met Molly, he changed his mind.
He noticed how the pony was careful to lie down on different sides so she didn’t seem to get sores, and how she allowed people to handle her.
He said: “Molly protected her injured leg – she constantly shifted her weight and didn’t overload her good leg. She was a smart pony with a serious survival ethic.”
Moore agreed to remove her leg below the knee and a temporary artificial limb was built. Molly walked out of the clinic under her own steam.
“This was the right horse and the right owner,” Moore insists. “Molly happened to be a one-in-a-million patient. She’s tough as nails but sweet, and she was willing to cope with pain. She made it obvious she understood that she was in trouble.”
The other important factor is having a truly committed and compliant owner who is dedicated to providing the daily care required over the lifetime of the horse.
Erin Harris, whose mother Kaye owns the grey-speckled pony, said: ‘Molly’s a fighter.
‘Mum has called her a symbol of New Orleans – she shows that despite Hurricane Katrina and having her leg amputated you can pull through. People see her as an inspiration.’
Molly’s story turns into a parable for life in post-Katrina Louisiana . The little pony gained weight, her mane felt a comb. A human prosthesis designer built her a leg.
Molly’s vet, Allison Barca said: “The prosthetic has given Molly a whole new life.
“And she asks for it – she will put her little limb out, and come to you and let you know that she wants you to put it on. Sometimes she wants you to take it off too.”
And sometimes, Molly gets away from Barca. “It can be pretty bad when you can’t catch a three-legged horse,” she laughs.
Most important of all, Molly has a job now. Kay, the rescue farm owner, started taking Molly to shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers. Anywhere she thought that people needed hope.
Inspiration: Molly brings hope to a girl during one of her visits
Wherever Molly went, she showed people her pluck and inspired people. And she had a good time doing it.
“It’s obvious to me that Molly had a bigger role to play in life,” Moore said, “She survived the hurricane, she survived a horrible injury, and now she is giving hope to others.”
“She’s not back to normal,” Barca concluded. “She’s going to be better. To me, she could be a symbol for New Orleans itself.”
There has even been a children’s book written about the animal, Molly the Pony.
Plucky: The pony is led in after a day in the fields