A HORSE collapsed and died at a South Tyneside farm which was at the time under investigation by an animal welfare charity.
Police, a fire brigade crew and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were called to Newton Garth Farm, off Benton Road, East Boldon, just after 3pm on Tuesday.
A male shire horse, believed to be 19 years old, had collapsed in a field.
Firefighters from Hebburn spent one and a half hours at the scene and used a winch to lift the animal off the field.
The horse was later taken away in a van to an abattoir in County Durham.
An investigation into the incident has now been launched and a post-mortem is to be carried out to establish the cause of death.
A spokesman for the RSPCA confirmed that, before Tuesday’s incident, an investigation was taking place at the farm.
The animal charity declined to reveal any further details of the probe.
Chris Hill, crew manager with Hebburn Fire Brigade, said “We were there to assist the RSPCA to retrieve a dead horse from a field.
“It had been put down by a vet at the owner’s request and we assisted with its transportation to the abattoir.”
An RSPCA spokesman said: “A horse was put to sleep by its owner’s vet at the owner’s request. The horse has now been taken away for a post mortem examination.
“This is an ongoing investigation and no further information is available at this time.”
The fire service was called to assist with the removal of the horse’s body from the field as a result of the extremely muddy conditions.
British Transport Police also attended the scene to check everything was in order because of the nearby proximity to the nearby Metro rail line, after being made aware of the fire crew being called out.
No one from Newton Garth Farm was available for comment.