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Fifteen donkeys, 9 mules and a hinny have been rescued from starvation in Italy by The Donkey Sanctuary, along with another 75 equines.

The animals, many of which were foals, were abandoned in a field near Rome yesterday (30 January) without food or water, surrounded by the remains of countless dead horses and donkeys.

Andrew Judge, European operations manager at The Donkey Sanctuary, said the discovery made him “ashamed to be human”.

“Too many times on this trip I have been shocked by the cruelty we faced,” he added.

Whilst organising veterinary care and shelter for the seriously malnourished donkeys, mules and hinny, The Donkey Sanctuary is also working closely with the Italian Horse Protection Association to ensure the same is done for the other equines.

“It was shocking to think that these beautiful animals had just starved to death and been left where they fell for scavengers to eat them.

“I felt ashamed to be human today and angry at the indifferent people who see these problems and do nothing,” said Mr Judge.

The Donkey Sanctuary has been active in Italy since 2004. Once the case against the owner has ended, the donkeys, mules and hinny will be given a permanent home at the charity’s sanctuary near Turin.

Donkeys are widely used in Italy, from producing milk and meat for the food industry to providing transport for rural families and tourists.

For more information, visit www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk