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CHINCOTEAGUE, Va. (WJZ) — A national organization is asking for Chincoteague to stop its annual pony swim after a horse died last week during the event.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, otherwise known as PETA, asked them to find another way to fundraise rather than hosting the pony swim and auction.

Last week, one of the ponies in the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company’s (CVFC) Annual Pony Swim and Auction tragically died after a “freak” accident that occurred in the pen on the carnival grounds.

The pony, named Butterfly Kisses, was being chased by another pony, Riptide, when she fell and slid into a fence, causing her to break her neck on July 26.

Officials responded to the pen within minutes but determined that there was no chance of survival.

Butterfly Kisses was euthanized and her body was taken back to Assateague where she was buried.

In the past, PETA contacted the CVFC and asked them to consider other fundraising options.

“Once again, we urge you to end the annual pony swim and auction and instead find humane ways to raise funds for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department’s important work while managing the pony herd’s size,” PETA commented.

PETA also mentioned that this isn’t the only horse that has died at the fairgrounds. They also claim these events can create stress for these animals.

In a long response to PETA, the public relations officer of the CVFC stated, “While these ponies mean a great deal to the Fire Company, the town and the county financially, we are also human beings who see these gorgeous animals as the beautiful creatures they are and we handle them with the care and respect they deserve.”

The public relations officer further explained, “If we did not do this event, these animals would end up overpopulating, eat themselves out of house and home, suffer diseases and injuries without any help at all.”

On Facebook, the buyback sponsor of Butterfly Kisses, Jesse Dickson stated, “I also want to thank the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company and Saltwater Cowboys for doing everything they could to help Butterfly. They were so respectful and let me go into the corral to see and pet her before they took her back to Assateague to be buried.”

This year marked the 93rd Annual Chincoteague Pony Swim and Auction, attracting visitors nationwide.

Grace Clark (WJZ Intern) authored this article.

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