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A family of animal lovers are warning about the dangers of letting off helium balloons after their beloved calf died from swallowing one that ended up in her field.
Six-month-old calf Lisa passed away just four days after ingesting half of a 70th birthday balloon which ended up in her field in Lincolnshire, owned by Sharon Lay and her fiancé, farmer Adrian Walton.
A passerby alerted the family when they saw poor Lisa struggling to stand.
Sharon, 48, Adrian, 51, and their 13-year-old foster daughter Molly stayed by Lisa's side for hours before she died from a bowel infection caused by the balloon.
Sharon is now warning others of the dangers of letting the balloons escape, saying she's found four in her field in the last six weeks.
"It was absolutely devastating. We're heartbroken," said Sharon.
"Lisa was going to be a breeding cow. She would have been on our farm for fifteen more years.
"It's tragic that she got taken away from us so soon.
"When we found her, she was struggling to hold her head up and her foster mum was there trying to prop her up.
"We found the chewed helium balloon in the field next to her and the vet confirmed that was what would have caused the obstruction and infection.
"She deteriorated really quickly.
"We gave her pain relief because she was groaning in pain, but by then she was losing strength and there was no way back."
Sadly, Lisa is the second calf of her foster mother Marge, 4, to have died in the the last six months after she lost one to a still birth.
"On the final day, Lisa was covered in lick marks from where Marge had been trying to revive her," added Sharon.
"Her mum hadn't left her side the whole time. Even when the herd moved, she would keep an eye on Lisa and nudge her.
"Marge was so distraught. When we took Lisa's body away, she kept circling the tractor.
"She didn't want us to leave the field with Lisa and we were worried she might jump the fence."
Sharon says the family regularly find litter thrown from cards on the nearby motorway in their fields, such as polystyrene drinks cups and takeaway food boxes.
Tragically, the family lost another cow in 2017 after it had swallowed a piece of wire left in the field by builders. "I'm not against having helium balloons to celebrate birthdays but please don't let them out into the open," says the farmer.
"You've no control over where they come down and if they come down in the countryside, a wild animal is going to eat it and die like Lisa.
"It's a painful death. With Lisa we could give her pain relief, but a wild animal isn't going to get that.
"Animals are very inquisitive and they will chew on anything.
"It's not too difficult to throw something in the bin or take it home with you to dispose of."
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