An Irish man become an Internet sensation after insisting that his pony go everywhere with him and is now under investigation by the UK’s RSPCA.
Joe Purcell, a 68-year-old Irish traveler, has denied allegations of animal cruelty as he maintains that his five-year-old pony Ruby fulfills the role of a guide dog.
Purcell recently took his pet pony to a Wrexham Maelor Hospital’s A&E department where he requested that pregnant Ruby undergo a scan to ensure her unborn foal was OK.
Originally from Tipperary, the grandfather is known in his locality as “The Highwayman”.
The widower has 11 children and 44 grandchildren says he travel around the British Isles where he tends to both cattle and horses for a living.
The Irish man was recently caught on CCTV attempted to take Ruby onto a train from his hometown of Wrexham to Holyhead, after he had spent a few days drinking in the North Wales town.
“I told the conductor she was my guide,” he told the Daily Mail. “People have guide dogs - why can’t they have guide ponies?
“But I was drunk at the time - I was on the top shelf.”
The Tipperary man insists his pet would have been “good as gold” if she had been allowed to board the train.
Purcell says he has used passenger trains to transport animals in the past, bringing a horse named Queenie on one occasion and a nanny goat and two kids last year.
“I went to Chester and bought two first class tickets and a half for the kids,” Purcell explained. “I didn’t have any problem.
“It was only about an hour and a half and I gave them food and water before I started and at the other end.”
The RSPCA are currently investigating the incidents, but the grandfather strongly denies treating his loyal pony in a cruel manner.
“She’s well looked after - better than a human being. All my horses and all my cattle are well looked after.”
The grandfather who splits his time between two traveler halting sites, says his 5-year-old grandson Phillip, who is austistici is a big fan of the pony.
“I love Philip and Ruby loves Philip. He lies underneath her and she doesn’t trample on him or kick him and he puts her in a trap with a harness and drives her.”
His new found stardom means he has reached celebrity status in his small home town.
“Everyone knows me in Wrexham anyway, but people have been coming up to me shaking my hand and giving me money.
“I’m known as “The Highwayman”.