Rescued donkey ‘bounces back’ after losing best friend

A donkey found struggling to walk due to his severely overgrown hooves, who later lost his best friend, has “bounced back” and will be looking for a new home soon.

Stuart and another donkey called Bob were seized by the RSPCA, on veterinary advice, on 20 February after they were found in urgent need of corrective hoof care. The pair were transferred to an equine clinic in Staffordshire for treatment and the Donkey Sanctuary was contacted by the RSPCA to take the donkeys into its care.

The Donkey Sanctuary’s head of welfare Hannah Bryer, who visited Stuart and Bob, said: “I could see right away both donkeys needed corrective care from an expert farrier. Their overgrown and misshapen feet were causing them pain, which affected their ability to stand and walk normally.

“Such neglect can cause undue stresses on the donkey’s legs, and we then begin to see a real detrimental impact on their welfare.”

Both donkeys received an assessment and treatment before being transferred to the sanctuary on 7 March. Bob was castrated, but had to be put down on veterinary advice later after suffering complications following the operation.

“The Donkey Sanctuary’s expert staff know that donkeys form close bonds and can really feel the impact of such a sudden loss, therefore it was vital Stuart got all the support he needed,” said the spokesman.

Chris Pile, farm manager at the Donkey Sanctuary’s Derbyshire centre, said it’s a “stressful thing” for a donkey to lose a companion.

“We kept a close eye on Stuart particularly in the first three weeks when there’s a higher risk of hyperlipaemia – a potentially fatal disease often brought on by stress – but he took it all in his stride and seems to have bounced back very well,” said Mr Pile.

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Stuart has now joined a new group of donkeys where he has settled in quickly.

“After going through so much from living with painfully overgrown hooves, to dealing with rescue, treatment, and losing his best friend, Stuart is now able to look forward to a bright future. He is undergoing training in the hope that he will find a new friend and join the Donkey Sanctuary’s rehoming scheme,” said a spokesman.

Ms Bryer added: “We know that taking care of donkeys is a hugely rewarding experience, and it really is a privilege to own such endearing animals. However, it comes with great responsibility and donkeys require caring and compassionate management to ensure they lead healthy and enriched lives.

“A lack of appropriate hoof care is still one of the most common welfare issues faced by donkeys in the UK today. We want donkey owners to know that our welfare team is here to offer advice and information about the easy steps that can be taken to avoid this type of suffering.”

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