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Germany

Is That a Dog or a Pony?

For an observant Dutch driver there was no question about it. A German car was transporting a miniature Shetland pony in the backseat -- reason enough for a hefty fine.

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Small and cuddly -- a mini Shetland pony in Germany

Dutch police stopped a German driver on Thursday after a diligent citizen and animal lover reported seeing a Shetland pony crammed into the backseat of a compact car.

"The small Shetland pony had no room to move and his head was pressed against the window," a police spokeswoman told Reuters.

The small horse, not much bigger than a large dog, was tied to a rope and forced into the hatchback of a Volkswagen Polo. The police fined the 42-year-old German €220 ($277) for improper transport of the animal, which the driver claimed to have just bought at a market in the Netherlands on the way back home to Germany.

"Once the driver has obtained an export certificate, the pony can go to Germany," police said.

In some countries like the United States, Shetland ponies are being used increasingly as guide horses for the blind. Because they live three times longer than the more common seeing-eye dogs and don't shed, the miniature ponies are much sought after. They are a fairly rare sight in Germany.

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