A donkey called Josh, who was living in pain due to a large crack in his hoof, is now on the road to recovery, thanks to The Donkey Sanctuary.

The plight of the 18-year-old donkey was brought to the attention of the international animal welfare charity in the midst of the Covid-19 lockdown in April 2020. His owner had taken on the task of trimming Josh’s hooves himself, rather than relying on the expertise of a professional farrier.

Donkey Welfare Adviser, Sally Bamforth examined the donkey at the address near Gretna in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland and immediately discovered that his hooves were in a very poor state, and he needed urgent farrier care.

Sally Bamforth said: “Josh’s feet were overgrown and misshapen, which was causing him considerable discomfort. His front left hoof had a big crack down the front. If left untreated, the hoof could have been susceptible to infection.

“X-rays revealed changes to Josh’s hooves caused by a painful foot condition called laminitis, which would have caused him significant discomfort.”

Josh’s companion, an older mare named Lucky, was also found to be suffering with severely overgrown and misshapen hooves.

Working in collaboration with the RSPCA and a veterinary surgeon, the donkeys were examined, and pain relief administered.

Sadly, the damage to Lucky’s hooves was too extensive. The vet advised that her prognosis was poor and attempting treatment would not be in her best interests it was decided that the kindest decision would be to put her to sleep on site, to make sure she didn’t suffer further.

The donkeys’ conditions were discussed with the owner, who agreed that the best course of action was to euthanise Lucky and relinquish Josh into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary.

Josh was transported to a local holding base funded by The Donkey Sanctuary for further treatment, where thanks to the expert farrier attention he received, the condition of his hooves greatly improved.

Here, grooms kept a close eye on him and watched out for signs of hyperlipaemia, a potentially fatal disease, which can be caused by the stress of losing a companion.

Josh has now been brought into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary in Devon and is well on the road to recovery.  He will continue to receive the highest level of care and is guaranteed a safe home for life.

Sally Bamforth added: “We often see damage to feet that could easily have been prevented. One of the benefits of using a qualified and suitably experienced farrier is that they would pick up on any conditions and treatment needed, as well as being a great source of advice.

“We have a team of Donkey Welfare Advisers across the country, who are on hand to provide guidance to donkey owners and to support donkeys in critical need of help.”


For interviews, images and information please contact The Donkey Sanctuary press office on 01395 573124 or 07970 927778 (including out of hours) or send an email.

Notes to Editors

The Donkey Sanctuary is the world's largest equine welfare charity. Our vision is a world where donkeys and mules live free from suffering and their contribution to humanity is fully valued. We run 10 sanctuaries around the UK and Europe, giving lifelong care to more than 7,000 donkeys and mules. Our hospital treats sick donkeys and trains vets both nationwide and worldwide. Our donkey-facilitated learning programme helps vulnerable children and adults develop life skills by connecting with donkeys on an emotional and physical level. The charity operates programmes worldwide for animals working in agriculture, industry and transportation, and those used in the production of meat and skin.

Please note that the name ‘The Donkey Sanctuary’ should not be abbreviated to ‘Donkey Sanctuary’, and the word ‘The’ should always appear with a capital ‘T’ as above.