The owner of two miniature donkeys who were found near the M1 after their stable burnt to the ground said she wants other owners to be more aware of security.

Nesta Maskell’s two miniatures, Edward and Isaac, were on loan to a school in Hertfordshire, for pupils with learning and other difficulties. They were both unharmed, but Nesta does not believe they escaped their field unaided, or that the fire, on the night of 29-30 June, started by accident.

“I’m so upset, and disgusted,” she said.

“The donkeys were found three miles away, near the junction with the M1. There’s no way my greedy pair would have walked that far on their own, past all the lush grass.

“We think someone’s picked them up, taken them and then dumped them by the motorway, for whatever reason.”

The two-year-old donkeys had become village favourites since Nesta took them on as weanlings, as they had appeared in two nativity plays. But she said they had proved to be as popular at the school, where the stable and a learning space above it had been built especially for them.

“The children had just started to bond with them – it’s so harsh,” Nesta said.

“We think someone broke the fence to get in, and maybe let them out rather than leave them to burn. Those donkeys have given my village so much, now the school and to think someone could treat animals like this.

“They’re so loving too; they’d have gone up to anyone who went in for a cuddle.

“I just want people to know there is this sort of mentality about; if people look at their own yards again, that’s all I want to achieve.

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“Luckily my two are ok, I’d have been heartbroken if not.”

The donkeys returned to the school today (3 July) and have been checked by vets to ensure they had suffered no ill effects.

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