Lily, the paint-marked grey mare rescued in Pennsylvania after being left at auction yards, has died only weeks after arriving at the sanctuary run by comedian Jon Stewart and his wife, Tracey McShane.
A Facebook message posted on The Daily Squeal, Stewarts’ Facebook page for Bufflehead Farm in Middletown, New Jersey, said: “It is with the deepest sadness that we share with you that dearest, sweetest Lily passed away yesterday. She went peacefully surrounded by so many that loved her. We stroked her hair and told her over and over again how loved and special she was. She was under her favorite tree on soft grass. She will live on in our hearts and in our fight to protect, love and cherish all animals.”
In a further update, the sanctuary said Lily had suffered a broken neck in a fall.
“Her bones were very frail. She stumbled and fell hard on her neck causing a break.
“When we knew there was nothing more we could do for her we covered her in kisses and kind words and said our good-byes.
“Our hearts are aching we had so many more fun plans for her. She was beyond special and beyond loved. We are comforted knowing that we were able to give her peace. She left this world feeling love.
The hardest part of adopting animals that have suffered neglect is that you often don’t get to spend as much time as your heart would have liked.”
Lily made headlines in mid-March when she was taken into care by the Lancaster County SPCA from sale yards in New Holland. Her paint-marked coat gave rise to suggestions that she may have been shot repeatedly with a paintball gun, although authorities say they have been unable to determine how the paint marks came about.
The mare, believed to be about 20, was quickly signed over to the Omega Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, which set about fundraising to help cover the cost of her veterinary care at the New Bolton Center, the large animal hospital which is part of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine.
Lily had her diseased right eye surgically removed and also required extensive treatment for an ulcerated left eye.
The announcement of her adoption by Stewart and his wife came just a day after a 65-year-old Rhode Island man was convicted of all counts he faced in relation to his transportation of Lily to the auction yards in New Holland, Pennsylvania.
Lily and another rescue horse named Anita, with whom she had developed a close bond, traveled to the sanctuary in May to begin their new lives. McShane, trained as a veterinary technician, had set up the sanctuary with her husband, who is a former host of the late-night talk and news satire television program, The Daily Show.
Lily became known in the media as the “paintball pony”, although authorities have said they are not able to establish how she came to have 125 paint marks on her coat. It was suggested in news reports she may have been finger-painted by children.
The Daily Squeal posted the first message about Lily’s death a little after 1pm on Monday.