Charities swoop in with life-saving sarcoid surgery on donkey

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The location of Skye's sarcoid meant that it had to be removed via laser while he was standing.
The location of Skye’s sarcoid meant that it had to be removed via laser while he was standing. © The Donkey Sanctuary

A donkey suffering from a form of cancer has received life-saving surgery, thanks to two international animal welfare charities.

Eight-year-old Skye, who was living on the grounds of a distillery in Fort William, Lochabar, in the Scottish Highlands, had a large growth on his chest that needed urgent veterinary attention.

Skye and a pony he lived with were bring looked after by a local groom and volunteers, after their owner could no longer care for them.

An independent vet examined the large growth on Skye’s chest, and diagnosed it as a sarcoid, a kind of skin cancer. The vet confirmed Skye would need specialist surgery and dedicated aftercare because of the severity of the sarcoid. It was suggested that the only option could be to put Skye to sleep.

In a desperate effort to save Skye, Emma Norval, one of the volunteers who helped look after him, contacted The Donkey Sanctuary to see if they could offer any support.

The Donkey Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare worked together to explore other treatment options for Skye.

Jenna Goldby, Donkey Welfare Adviser at The Donkey Sanctuary, said that because of the nature of the sarcoid, the only treatment option available was removal via laser treatment. It was not possible to remove it on site, so World Horse Welfare transported Skye to the University of Glasgow, School of Veterinary Medicine for the operation.

Sarcoid removal surgery was successful for Skye.
Sarcoid removal surgery was successful for Skye. © The Donkey Sanctuary

World Horse Welfare Field Officer John Burns said that because the sarcoid was on Skye’s chest, the operation had to take place with him standing.

“Under the expert care of Professor David Sutton, the tumour was removed using laser treatment.

“Everyone is really hopeful that Skye will continue to make a full recovery and go on to live in very good health.”

Following surgery, Skye was moved to a holding base funded by The Donkey Sanctuary, where his health is continuing to improve. He has settled in well and is receiving the care that he deserves from his dedicated grooms.

Emma Norval said: “If it had not been for such a quick response from The Donkey Sanctuary I don’t think the lovely, gentle Skye would be here today. He is such a lovely boy.”

The Donkey Sanctuary’s Goldby said it was a great outcome for Skye. She said the charity has a team of Donkey Welfare Advisers around the country available to offer free support and advice to donkey owners. It operates programmes worldwide for animals working in agriculture, industry and transportation.

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