Donkey foal rescued from small garden after being given away for free

  • A welfare charity has spoken out about equines being “offloaded” cheaply or for free after a donkey foal who was given away was homed in an unsuitable garden, calling for his mother.

    In February the team at the Donkey Sanctuary Ireland received a call from the new owner of the foal, who was nearly four months old, seeking “urgent welfare advice”.

    “The owner had recently brought home the foal after seeing an advertisement online but quickly realised their mistake as they could not provide suitable shelter and feed,” said a Donkey Sanctuary spokesman.

    “When the team arrived, they were concerned to find the foal – later named Valentine – standing in a small garden, continuously braying for his mother. He was clearly stressed as he repeatedly tried to enter the house through the back door to find company. The steep drop near the back door was also an immediate concern, as it could cause serious injury to the foal if he slipped.”

    The spokesman said the team gave Valentine a health and assessment and it was decided he was stable enough to travel to the charity’s unit Mallow, adding that although the sanctuary is full, there are limited spaces for cases involving the most vulnerable donkeys who require immediate attention.

    “After arriving, Valentine spent the night in his new stable, eating plenty of food and staying warm under a heat lamp. He was immediately welcomed by Mick and Ronan, who live in the stable next door, and it was heartwarming to see the three donkeys greeting one another from across the gate,” he said.

    “The veterinary team gave him a full medical, treated his lice infestation and trimmed his hooves. He grows stronger every day, and he is often seen playing with Mick and Ronan at the new arrivals unit.”

    The spokesman added Valentine was not microchipped and did not have a valid passport and there was “very limited” information provided about him, which means finding his mother will be “extremely difficult” without being able to identify his previous owner.

    Laura Foster, country manager of the Donkey Sanctuary Ireland, told H&H that equine overbreeding is a big problem and welfare charities see the “sharp end” through the crisis work they do, dealing with donkeys and mules that have suffered severe neglect or been abandoned because they are no longer wanted.

    “This situation has led to the offloading of donkeys cheaply or for free on websites to people who do not have the finances or the infrastructure to care for them properly. Sourcing donkeys in this way supports irresponsible breeding and rehoming practices,” she said.

    “We would always encourage people to ‘adopt not shop’ if they are interested in bringing donkeys into their lives by contacting specialist animal welfare organisations who can give advice on how to house, feed, and care for them. Regardless of the source, all prospective owners should be asking to see a passport to determine the background and previous owners.”

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