A 7-year old mare was found dead on a campground at Assateague Island after eating dog food, according to the National Park Service.
Park officials said the mare, known as N2BHS-AI, or Chama Wingapo, ingested “large quantities of dog food” on Monday, July 17. An investigation revealed the dog food caused a blockage and resulted in a ruptured intestine, leading to the horse’s death.
While the dog food may not have been fed directly to the horse, officials said in a statement, the food wasn’t properly stored away from the island’s wild horses.
“All food, including your pet’s food, must be properly stored,” officials said. “This tragic incident could have been prevented by simply storing pet food in a vehicle.
Visitors can protect the area’s wildlife by following these rules provided by the National Park Service:
• Horses can open snap-on lids and latches. Coolers and containers “stored” under picnic tables are not secure from horses and wildlife. Secure all coolers with a nylon strap to prevent wildlife from opening.
• Secure all tote or beach bags with a zippered closure. Horses can easily access open totes and bags.
• Store all unattended food in your vehicle.
• Store all pet food in your vehicle. Do not leave your pet’s food and water bowls unattended. Horses, like your pets, are opportunists and will take advantage of a free meal.
• Keep food stored if horses are in your immediate vicinity. Wait until they have moved on before beginning your meal.
• Dispose of your trash immediately in dumpsters. The smell from food wrappers will attract horses and other wildlife, and if ingested could cause death.