The feature of The Donkey Sanctuary’s work which I’ve always found the most inspiring is their work with working equids, improving the lives of those dependent upon them financially, and giving a quality of life and security of health to these hard-working “beasts of burden”. In Spain, I have had the pleasure of exploring another side of their work; sanctuary work. Dona Rosa is the larger of the two Sanctuaries in Spain. Whilst it is always difficult to hear stories of abuse, I am astounded once more by the work of The Donkey Sanctuary in alleviating suffering in animals.
Growing up in Ireland, the image conjured when someone says ‘donkey’ is, like the majority of the population, that of a sweet, soggy donkey in a field of luscious grass, who has evidently enjoyed one-too-many carrots in their time. Here, the donkeys I met were lean, with hard feet and no real abscess problem to speak of.
The time has finally arrived and the Veterinary Department are in the middle of moving from our old hospital buildings to the brand new, purpose built hospital at Brookfield Farm. This follows a lot of hard work by many people and many departments to coordinate movement of all the equipment, drugs, people and paperwork accumulated over the years!
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 DAT 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.
Emily Silburn is a recent graduate of sociology and Hannah Badham is a vet student, both are from the University of Liverpool and are recipients of The Donkey Sanctuary’s overseas travel grant. They are travelling to Mexico to work with The Donkey Sanctuary Mexico-UNAM. During this time, they will be learning about the work that The Donkey Sanctuary does in rural communities including veterinary outreach and community education programmes.
Each year in October, about a week before the full moon lights up the night sky, the town of Dewa Sharif in eastern Uttar Pradesh comes alive with the sights and sounds of one of north India’s largest equine fairs.
The Barabanki Fair, or the Dewa Mela as it’s also known, has been taking place annually for over a century to commemorate the Sufi saint Haji Waris Ali Shah. Hundreds of traders and thousands of donkeys, mules and horses descend upon the fair grounds for a week of hectic trading, and an entire local economy springs up around them.
Gareth - our gorgeous little donkey, with a personality way beyond his size, is now very sight impaired. We have been noticing that he is a little jumpy when visitors come to see him and even around the grooms that he knows and trusts. On examination he is now almost completely blind. Luckily, Gareth knows his way around his environment very well and we will always respect his need to live right where he is now with his pals.
Earlier in the year you may have read about our European partners' meeting, bringing together all our Donkey Sanctuary-funded outreach project partners.
Over the summer Andrew Judge, European Operations manager, and myself – Alex Thiemann, vet, have been visiting the projects to gain an overview of the similarities and differences and see how best to continue to support this work.
Our first visit coincided ironically with the momentous Brexit vote - we were in Cyprus when the news came through!