A roaming miniature pony that captured hearts in the Key Peninsula will now officially be able to call the place home.
The pony nicknamed Runaway Ray, a partially blind Shetland found wandering the Key Peninsula last month, was purchased at auction Saturday by a local family looking to adopt him.
Marykate Fowler had wanted to adopt Ray shortly after taking him off the streets and caring for him in her home last month. Fowler had hoped she could keep the pony — who got along well with her other two horses, a pair of goats and a sheep — at least until his owner could be found.
But Pierce County Animal Control officers took Ray away last month, citing a state law that requires roaming livestock to be turned over to a state brand inspector. According to the state process, the brand inspector must try to find the owner of the livestock, and if no owner can be found, the state must put the animal up for auction.
Fowler attended Saturday’s livestock auction in Enumclaw and placed a winning $625 bid to claim Runaway Ray as her own.
“I was very relieved,” Fowler said Saturday. “It’s a big weight off our shoulders. This has been a long, emotional road trip.”
After the auction, community members who had gotten to know Ray on social media took to Facebook to express their joy at his return to the Key Peninsula.
“So glad he has a forever home,” one member of the Key Peninsula Facebook group wrote.
State Rep. Michelle Caldier, R-Port Orchard, wrote that the pony’s plight has prompted her to work on legislation “to allow loving families to purchase ponies like Ray and not requiring them to be auctioned off.”
“I love what we can accomplish when our community works together,” Caldier posted on Facebook.
Fowler said Ray’s health has improved since she first found him roaming the streets.
“He’s just so sweet, he really is,” Fowler said. “Once he started getting used to us and letting us pet him, it’s just easy to fall in love with him.”
Still, the aging pony has a few things he can learn, she said.
“What’s next is we’re going to train him so he doesn’t step on toes,” Fowler said. “Right now, he’s kind of all over the place.”