Three leading animal charities have joined forces to rescue a herd of 14 donkeys from dreadful conditions on a smallholding in Britain’s North East.
The recent rescue effort was sparked when The Donkey Sanctuary received a call from a member of the public about animals on a rural property. Donkey welfare advisor Charly Wain visited the address, and found donkeys, goats and a Shetland pony sharing a muddy field. They had very little food, limited grazing, and no hardstanding. In addition, the field was full of hazards that included plastic, rubbish and old farm machinery, and the fencing was unsafe.
Several interventions were carried out over the course of three months. Sadly, nothing changed and the owner continually failed to address the concerns relating to the donkeys’ living environment, hoof care and diet.
This led to the donkey-welfare adviser returning with two colleagues from World Horse Welfare, plus a veterinary surgeon and an RSPCA inspector. Charly comments: “I was able to get a clearer view of the donkeys’ feet. The hooves were curving upwards on some of the donkeys, and many of the hooves had begun to twist and deviate. I was worried about the condition of the hooves and what other effects this could be having on the wellbeing of the donkeys.”
After the vet’s examination, the owner agreed to sign over all the donkeys to the RSPCA, and within hours, the donkeys were removed from the site and were on their way to one of The Donkey Sanctuary’s holding bases.
“While handling the donkeys I had noticed all the mares who had foals at foot were underweight and I could feel their spines, ribs and pelvis bones without applying much pressure to them. I was so relieved that the donkeys were now going to have their hooves attended to and live in a more appropriate environment,” Charly said.
Once settled, each donkey was x-rayed and further examinations were carried out by a vet and The Donkey Sanctuary’s head of welfare, Hannah Bryer. Using the x-rays as a guide, the farrier was then able to begin the task of trimming and caring for their hooves, while the donkeys were put onto an appropriate diet to help them gain weight.
Thanks to the direct intervention of The Donkey Sanctuary and the support of World Horse Welfare and the RSPCA, the 11 donkeys and three foals are now enjoying life among other donkeys in a safe environment, where they are guaranteed nutritious food, love and care for the rest of their lives.
“The donkeys would have continued to deteriorate if all organisations involved hadn’t intervened when they did. They now have a happy, healthy future ahead of them,” Charly said.
In 2019 The Donkey Sanctuary celebrates its 50th anniversary. This milestone is an opportunity to both look back on the charity’s landmark achievements and take stock of the massive challenges in a world where the suffering of animals remains abhorrent.
Since its foundation by Dr Elisabeth Svendsen in 1969, The Donkey Sanctuary has grown from a charity rescuing UK donkeys from neglect and abuse, to an international welfare organisation transforming the lives of millions of donkeys and mules, and the people who depend on them for a living.