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Salt River horse euthanized after not being able to eat or drink due to eating plastic bag

The horse was unable to eat or drink after consuming shreds of a plastic bag.

MESA, Ariz. — A Salt River wild horse was euthanized on Sunday after eating plastic, causing the horse to be unable to eat or drink.

Officials with the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, the group that manages the herd of 400 horses, said the horse was suffering from "choke", a condition in which the horse can breathe but can't swallow food or water.

"He was literally starving and dehydrating," Simone Netherlands of the SRWHMG said. "He was trying to drink and eat and it was the saddest thing we've ever seen."

After two days of monitoring the horse, named Tangua by the management group, was not faring any better. The decision was made to euthanize the horse.

"There was really no other way," Netherlands said. "He was going to die a horrible death, so we had to humanely euthanize him."

After the horse was euthanized, Netherlands said a necropsy was performed. Inside Tangua's esophagus, she said they found shreds of a chewed-up plastic bag.

Now the group is asking anyone who comes to the Salt River or Tonto National Forest to make sure they dispose of any trash to prevent other horses from mistakenly eating it. 

"People enjoy this river by the thousands," Netherlands said. "They need to respect nature."

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