Donkey foals ‘step forward into life without fear’ after herd rescued from squalor

A herd of donkeys including two pregnant mares who lost their foals are looking forward to a future “full of love and care” after they were rescued from squalor.

The Donkey Sanctuary Ireland visited a farm in County Cork in summer 2018 as part of its donkey welfare improvement scheme, which aims to provide advice and guidance to owners in Ireland, as the owner’s poor health meant he was struggling to care for his herd of 14.

A spokesman for the charity said welfare adviser Ciara O’Kelly returned to the farm in March 2019 to check the donkeys’ progress.

The donkeys before arriving at the Donkey Sanctuary

“When she arrived she was alarmed at the deterioration in welfare conditions since she had last seen the herd,” he said.

“The donkeys, including foals and pregnant mares, were housed together in a shed that was too small for their needs. They were thin and dirty with matted coats, and several were showing hoof problems.”

The spokesman said Ciara was concerned for the welfare of the herd, and in particular the four pregnant mares forced to live in such “confined and unsanitary” conditions.

“Speaking to Ciara at length, the owner said his own deterioration in health had impeded his ability to look after the donkeys,” he said.

“With the owner recognising the need for his donkeys to have access to immediate care, he agreed to relinquish them to the Donkey Sanctuary. Arrangements were made for the group to travel to the sanctuary in Liscarroll in two trips, opening the door for them to start a new life.”

The spokesman added on inspection of the donkeys at the sanctuary the “real cost” of the herd’s living conditions soon became apparent to the charity’s vets and grooms.

“In three cases, the herd suffered upsetting losses; two of the pregnant mares lost their foals,” he said.

“Tulip, a sweet and quiet mare, was diagnosed with chronic arthritis from an old injury and was showing severe muscle wastage. Her discomfort was so great that our team of vets decided the kindest thing to do for her was to put her to sleep.”

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The herd is now looking forward to a future “full of love and care”.

“There is a particularly bright future ahead for two new members of the group; the two happy and healthy foals born in our care following the rescue of their mothers. For these two youngsters, their future is a far cry from the life their mothers led. With no memories to make them mistrustful of human contact, they are already boldly stepping forwards into a life without fear,” said the spokesman.

“After the donkeys have been rehabilitated in our care, they will be assessed to check if they will be suitable for rehoming. If suitable, we will rehome them into loving guardian homes supported by our welfare advisors. Donkeys from the group not suitable for rehoming will remain in our care.”

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