I started working for The Donkey Sanctuary in 1991 and this week I literally “took my work home with me!”
Billy is a three year old donkey who was relinquished into our care after his owner was no longer able to take care of him. He is such a lovely donkey and may eventually be suitable to help out at our sister charity, the Elisabeth Svendsen Trust for Children and Donkeys, giving donkey riding therapy sessions to children with additional needs.
Billy is a stallion and therefore cannot be kept with other males as they would fight, he was not able to be kept with the heavily pregnant female donkeys at the home of the kind man who rescued him six months ago when he was thin and covered in lice.
The problem we had is that he is classed as a donkey of unknown origin; this means that we do not know if he came from outside the UK where there may have infectious diseases that might put the donkeys here in Sidmouth at risk.
Before Billy can come into the Sanctuary he has to have blood tests to check he is healthy. I offered to house him in our barn in Ottery St Mary, roughly 7 miles from the Sanctuary, while the all important blood tests were done. This was estimated to be approximately two weeks.
I was really excited and prepared a nice straw bed, fresh water and hay and arranged for the different feedstuffs that he was used to eating to be available. Billy arrived on Monday afternoon and seemed to be very calm although a little stiff from his journey. Maria, the driver who collected him, told me that she was a little worried as his gums seemed to be pinker than one would expect and we noticed that he had injured both hind legs. He was happy to eat the carrots and fresh grass we offered him and nibbled at the chaff and nuts.
My husband, Graham, was very taken with Billy who was pleased to have company and be given some TLC. It wasn’t me who said “can we keep him”!
On Tuesday morning Elena, one of the Sanctuary vets, and Julie, one of our vet nurses, came from Sidmouth to check Billy over and take blood samples. Elena was concerned that his hock joint was infected and had to give a mild tranquiliser so that she could safely clip the hair away from the affected area. Billy’s reaction to the injection was extreme and it made him wobbly on his legs, which made Elena more suspicious that something might be seriously wrong. After cleaning and dressing the wounds Elena and Julie returned to Sidmouth.
The blood samples were taken directly to the path lab and Elena waited around for the results which showed high white blood cells indicating an infection. In my lunch hour I returned home with Julie to help her inject Billy with his first dose of antibiotics, some pain killers and an anti tetanus injection.
Poor Billy, no wonder he seemed so quiet and well behaved, he is really quite poorly. Elena will be back in the morning to check him over.
Update 30th September - Wednesday morning 7.30 am
Good news - Billy is looking much brighter, his temperature is down; Elena took the dressing off and checked his leg which is not swollen any more. She cleaned the wounds and then applied antiseptic cream with fly repellent properties to both hind legs and then gave him his pain killer and antibiotic drugs.
More tests are being done as he has low protein levels and a very high fluke presence that needs to be addressed.
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