As welfare advisers we are often called to situations where donkey welfare is far from ideal, but occasionally there are times when your heart just sinks with sadness. Jenny’s story was one of those occasions. Jenny was an aged mare who had spent most of her life being sold from one person to the next.
Last Wednesday, 16 trainee RSPCA Inspectors visited The Donkey Sanctuary for a day of donkey care, behaviour, and welfare-related training. This is currently the only day that Inspectors receive during their training which is entirely dedicated to donkeys so it’s vital that we maximise this opportunity to help raise their awareness of the needs of donkeys, to inform them of our work here at the Sanctuary, and to let them know that we are always here to help.
We are Helen Cleverton and Becky Godley from Town Barton Farm which is home to 141 mules and hinnies and specialises in care and behaviour training for these highly intelligent and sensitive animals. There was a group of mules at our Sanctuary in Ireland that were moving over to our farm and we were lucky enough to visit them to learn the key points about their individual behaviour training needs. This would make the move much easier for the mules and help us to understand them and build upon the training progress they’ve already made.
When we post about our international work to improve donkey/mule welfare, there are often people who simply can’t believe how or why the animals end up in the situations that they are in. Some people express real anger towards the owners or handlers of the animals but the reality is that the lives of the people in many areas that we work are also extremely hard as a result of poverty, economic crisis and very poor living conditions.
Well, following on from our last blog we are all in and settling down to life at the new hospital. Desks have been unpacked and organised, the drug cupboard is stocked and locked, the theatre has been christened with our first surgeries (sarcoid removals and castrations), the stocks in the new examination rooms have been in use for x-rays, dentals and standing surgeries and the stables have been filled and emptied and cleaned as the donkeys have come and gone.
We often talk about the importance of a providing an environment that allows donkeys to express their natural behaviour and our visitors enjoy watching the relationships between our donkeys and their friends. Whether they are running through the fields, playing with toys or interacting with each other, we love to see donkeys doing what they do. Not only is it entertaining, providing donkeys with the opportunity to behave freely is highly beneficial to their welfare.
Spring is definitely in the air and it’s wonderful to see so many visitors walking around the Sanctuary during the Easter holidays.
How many of you have been driving around and been dazzled fields of Oild Seed Rape (OSR) turning bright yellow? If you’ve visited The Donkey Sanctuary, you certainly will have noticed a patchwork of fields across the valley as you drive up Trow Hill towards the Sanctuary.
Where, previously, only the richest members of these mountain communities could afford a mule, today the mule population has exploded as mules are bought in so that the young men of the villages can find work as muleteers. The mules of the Moroccan High Atlas are therefore very much a product of the mountain tourism industry.