International animal welfare charity The Donkey Sanctuary came to the rescue of two British donkeys who were suffering through having painfully overgrown hooves.
The organisation’s welfare team was contacted by the RSPCA about the pair, who had been seized on veterinary advice.
It was clear that Stuart and Bob needed urgent corrective farriery care. Their hooves had become so overgrown that their toes were curling up, which was affecting the way they were walking.
The Donkey Sanctuary’s Head of Welfare, Hannah Bryer, visited them at an equine clinic in Staffordshire, where they had been taken for treatment. “I could see right away that both of the donkeys needed corrective care on their hooves from an expert farrier. Their overgrown and misshapen feet were causing them pain, which affected their ability to stand and walk normally,” Bryer said.
“Such neglect can cause undue stresses on the donkey’s legs, and we then begin to see a real detrimental impact on their welfare.”
Both donkeys underwent routine assessments, treatment and, for Bob, a castration procedure that every stallion receives when coming into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary.
Unfortunately, Bob suffered post-operation complications and despite extensive veterinary treatment, the difficult decision was taken to put him to sleep.
As donkeys form close bonds and can really feel the impact of such a sudden loss, it was vital that Stuart got all the support he needed.
Chris Pile, Farm Manager at The Donkey Sanctuary’s Derbyshire Centre, transported the bereft Stuart to his new home. “It’s quite a stressful thing for a donkey to lose their mate,” he said. “We kept a close eye on him, particularly in the first three weeks when there’s a higher risk of hyperlipaemia – a potentially fatal disease often brought on by stress – but he took it all in his stride and seems to have bounced back very well.”
Stuart spent some time in an isolated area before joining a new group where he has settled in quickly. After going through so much, from living with painfully overgrown hooves, to dealing with being rescued, treatment, and losing his best friend, Stuart is now able to look forward to a bright future. He is undergoing training in the hope that he will find a new friend and join The Donkey Sanctuary’s Rehoming Scheme.
Bryer said that a lack of appropriate hoof care is still one of the most common welfare issues faced by donkeys in the UK today.
“At The Donkey Sanctuary, we want donkey owners to know that our welfare team is here to offer advice and information about the easy steps that can be taken to avoid this type of suffering,” she said.
“We know that taking care of donkeys is a hugely rewarding experience, and it really is a privilege to own such endearing animals. However, it comes with great responsibility and donkeys require caring and compassionate management to ensure they lead healthy and enriched lives.“
This year 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.