When I first saw Tommy, he was in a pitiful state, skinny, scruffy and suffering from severely overgrown hooves. His stable was filthy with nowhere clean or comfortable for him to rest. Tommy’s sad eyes met mine as I tried to reassure him. I knew in that moment that his life would change forever that day but he had no idea of what the future held for him.
For such a young donkey, he had already been through so much. I was told how Tommy had been found abandoned in a local lane before being taken in as an act of goodwill, however well-meaning those intentions were, Tommy was in urgent need of professional farriery and veterinary care if he was to stand any real chance of recovery.
Tommy was signed over into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary, along with his friends Timmy, Toby, Rupert and Rosie, and after being examined by a vet they were transported to our emergency holding base. Vet Mandy Platt and Farrier Chris Adamson were on hand to provide Tommy with the professional care and attention he needed, whilst grooms worked day and night to make sure he was adjusting to his surroundings, eating well and taking his medication.
Seven months on and Tommy is an altogether different donkey. His coat is clean and shiny, he has put on weight and he is full of character. Tommy may be the youngest of the four boys, but he is also the tallest and the most determined. Tommy likes what he likes but when he does not like something – good luck changing his mind! Zoe Joynson who has helped look after Tommy tells us more: "The one thing Tommy likes more than anything is breakfast time. He gets so excited when he hears the buckets being prepared he starts the whole barn off with a chorus of donkey brays to hurry us along. It is great to see him looking so well, it has taken a lot of hard work to turn him around but he is certainly worth every second of our time."
Whilst Tommy’s future is safe and secure in the care of The Donkey Sanctuary, sadly he has not been able to leave all of his past behind him. Years of walking on overgrown hooves have taken their toll on his joints causing him to walk abnormally. Thankfully, he is coping well and we hope that he will soon be able to make the journey to Devon.
Cases like this are often sad and distressing, they can evoke emotion, anger and in some cases judgement. We all wish not to have to see harrowing images or videos of donkeys in distress, but for our teams and sadly, for many donkeys across the world, these scenes are reality. By widening awareness of welfare issues, encouraging empathy and providing a platform for discussion, we can promote change, build relationships and improve welfare, but we can only do this with your help and support. Walking into these situations is so much easier knowing that thanks to the generosity of our supporters we are in a position to help donkeys like Tommy – and I am sure he is grateful too.