Hoofing it on the road to recovery: Abandoned trio nursed back to health

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Snowy and his two companions, Gilly and Holly, were overweight and needed urgent hoof care. A close-up image of Snowy's feet is below.
Snowy and his two companions, Gilly and Holly, were overweight and needed urgent hoof care. A close-up image of Snowy’s feet is below. © The Donkey Sanctuary

Three donkeys left behind to fend for themselves after their owners moved off a farm in Britain were found with hooves so long they were struggling to walk.

The trio, having been left on acres of lush pasture, were also extremely overweight. Donkeys are prone to obesity and their diets need careful management. Too much lush grass can cause weight gain as well as laminitis, a painful foot condition.

The hooves of Gilly, Holly and Snowy were 10 centimetres longer than they should have been, with Donkey Welfare Adviser Sally Bamforth, from The Donkey Sanctuary, saying it was the worst example of foot neglect she had seen.

Since being taken into the care of the charity in December 2020, the trio is now recovering well.

“Even from a distance you could see how abnormally long the donkeys’ hooves were, making it difficult for them to walk naturally,” Bamforth said.

“When walking they lifted their legs up much higher than would be usual to reduce the chance of their hooves catching the ground and clipping into the dirt.”

It is not known how long Gilly, Holly and Snowy had been left to their own devices, but all three needed urgent veterinary treatment. The Donkey Sanctuary was alerted to their plight by a member of the public.

Gilly at the time of her rescue, along with Snowy and Holly. © The Donkey Sanctuary

The donkeys were relinquished into the care of the charity with the collaboration of the owners and the RSPCA. The animals were transported to a holding base where they received veterinary and farriery treatment.

All three have made good progress after months of dedicated care.

“It is incredible to see the transformation of the donkeys’ hooves and how Gilly, Snowy and Holly are now moving about freely, without discomfort,” Bamforth said.

“Sadly situations like this are not uncommon. Lack of appropriate hoof care is still one of the most common welfare issues faced by donkeys in the UK today.

“Our welfare team works throughout Great Britain to offer free advice and information to donkey owners about the easy steps that can be taken to avoid this type of suffering.”

Gilly, Holly and Snowy with Sally Bamforth, six months after their rescue.
Gilly, Holly and Snowy with Sally Bamforth, six months after their rescue. © The Donkey Sanctuary

Gilly, Holly and Snowy will remain in the care of the international animal welfare charity, either in one of its sanctuaries or in a Guardian Home through its rehoming scheme.

 

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