This months blog is written by Vicky Grove, one of the Sanctuary Vets.
Did you know that all of the UK’s beach donkeys require, by law, an annual vet check in order to certify them as fit to work?
In the same way, The Donkey Sanctuary vets check all the donkeys working at our 6 donkey assisted therapy centres twice every year. Each centre has a local vet for any emergency calls but The Donkey Sanctuary vets each have a centre to oversee which provides continuity and direct communication points with the grooms plus the vets, farriers and dentists involved in the everyday care. This allows us to pick up any problems that might affect the donkeys, or their ability to work, early. As the work they do doesn’t exactly require much exertion (compare them to racehorses for example), it is important to check for subtle conditions that may go unnoticed.
What does the inspection involve?
The vet wants to ensure that the donkey is fit for the job and should remain fit for at least the next 6 months.
Firstly the donkey is assessed for body condition score; this is recorded and compared to the last examination. Also recorded is the work that each individual is doing and any concerns that the grooms have. A head to toe inspection is then undertaken:
- Auscultation of the heart and lungs.
- Examination of the eye using ophthalmoscope and bright light.
- Each hoof is checked for soundness.
- Saddle fit can vary throughout the year if body condition fluctuates.
- Dental check.
Importantly the vet feels all over the donkey to check for lumps, bumps and sore areas.
I especially enjoy my visit to our centre in Birmingham in the winter months to marvel at the amazing Santa’s grotto built each year with a different theme showing incredible imagination, craftsmanship and team effort.