As vets we always try and do the absolute best for our donkey patients - but sometimes it's hard not to feel sorry for them and frustrated at the problems we have to deal with which are so often caused by human thoughtlessness.
The next couple of months are especially tough on some of our new arrival stallions - while we are hoping to enjoy summer holidays and relaxing with friends, the new donkey stallions have a more challenging time ahead.
Each year the Sanctuary receives many, many unwanted stallions (also called jacks), all of which need to be castrated. If left entire, without work or breeding to occupy them, these boys will often fight among themselves causing serious injuries, they can become difficult to handle and aggressive, and of course can contribute to the problem of unwanted donkeys by breeding.
It is still a sad truth that a lot of donkeys and mules are produced as a product of accidental mating when there is no home for the offspring or no money to care for the foals.
Our recent caseload illustrates the problems we face. Some weeks ago we had to castrate our young foals at a good age (6 months old) in a clean field over at Brookfield farm. Apart from a touch of Devon rain the surgeries went smoothly and quickly, each one only taking around 10 minutes, with the youngsters up on their feet and running round the field with each other shortly after the operations.
These youngsters will hopefully be out on our foster scheme when they are older and should make gorgeous donkey companions for some lucky family.
Contrast this with the older stallions we have had to deal with this summer - a new group of stallions that were all sent in together saw fighting between them mean one of them needed emergency surgery due to a deeply infected bite wound on a front leg, while another had to have half of his ear amputated after an attack from his "friend".
Obviously we try to separate them as soon as we can see there are problems, but that can also be stressful for animals that have grown up together. Then, when we do have to castrate these mature jacks the surgery takes much longer, sometimes up to an hour, and carries far more risk of infection and uncomfortable swelling for them.
The increase in time is due to the different surgical method that needs to be used because they have larger blood vessels and more risk of bleeding. They also have more tendency towards aggressive play and the learnt mounting behaviour after surgery which damages the healing tissue.
In addition to this, Summer brings flies, flies and more flies to the wounds, and heat makes them swell. So we spend many anxious days caring for these poor ex-stallions, hoping they will recover quickly.
We would love to only castrate stallions when they are young and only when the weather is cool, but as a charity we have to take in all the emergency admissions we get and it is just not possible to keep donkeys coming in to us without castrating the stallions whatever the season, as without this they would not be able to move out of isolation and onto a farm.
We need to move them through to allow other donkeys that need our help to come in and we also want to get them onto a farm where they can relax and make other donkey friends.
So our message to donkey owners is: please don't put off what needs to be done, please take responsibility for your boy foals and get them castrated young. We are also promoting this message at the British Equine Veterinary Association congress this autumn in Liverpool.
Maybe by next summer we can all enjoy the holidays and the sunshine, and not have to worry about so many mature stallions needing uncomfortable surgery?