We stepped in and rescued two young donkeys who were discovered with severely overgrown hooves and confined to a dirty shelter. Find out more here.

Stallions Scotty and Thomas, both aged between two and five, lived in pain with no basic welfare provisions. Both were underweight and suffering with long hooves, which had not been attended to for a long time.

The floor beneath them was a mix of rotten straw and excrement. These damp, dirty conditions would have only compounded the donkeys’ poor hoof health.

Donkey Welfare Adviser Justine Thomas travelled to the site at Melksham, Wiltshire, in 2018 after receiving a call from an inspector from the RSPCA.

Justine says: “It was clear that they were living in an unsuitable environment. As soon as the donkeys saw me, they retreated to the back of the stable, pressing themselves against the back wall. It was very clear that they had not been handled and only had each other for comfort.

“We needed to get them into a safe environment where they could receive veterinary care and a clean stable.”

Once the donkeys were safely loaded, they were taken to a nearby holding base for immediate medical attention.

Justine says: “It vital that donkeys’ feet are balanced and trimmed on a regular basis. Because without proper farrier care, donkeys’ hooves continue to grow. In many cases where the hooves are overgrown, the heel collapses, causing the toe to curl up.

“Donkeys originate from hot, dry climates, walking for much of the day on rough surfaces. Here in the UK, where the climate is wetter and the ground is softer, donkeys benefit from having hardstanding and dry areas where they can rest, which helps keep their hooves healthy.”

Scotty and Thomas with long hooves
Scotty and Thomas investigating van
Scotty and Thomas, long hooves close up
Scotty and Thomas at the rescue site

Since their rescue, Scotty and Thomas have received expert care and attention from our staff, who continue to help their recovery.

Justine says: “Their progress has been huge, and it really shows what a good job everyone has done with them. When they were rescued, these donkeys were very wary of humans because they had not been handled. Now, they are just fantastic with the grooms.”

Scotty and Thomas have settled in extremely at one of our Farm sanctuaries near Sidmouth, Devon, and have bonded with another donkey duo, Delaney and Pedro. The donkeys stayed in adjacent pens at our isolation unit and became inseparable pals.

Farm Groom Jen Littley says: “Scotty and Thomas are very inquisitive donkeys! They are in lovely condition now, so they don’t need any extra feed. That doesn’t stop them thinking they should be given breakfast, and they are always looking over the gate for something to eat.”

A lot of work has gone into helping Scotty and Thomas overcome their nervousness around the grooms, and this hard work has undoubtedly paid off.

Jen adds: “When they first arrived and ventured out into the yard, they would run away from us. Now, they really enjoy affection and being groomed. Scotty used to be extremely head-shy but is now fantastic when we put on his head collar and give him a brush.

“Wherever these two go, Delaney and Pedro are never far behind. They are lovely boys.”

With your help, we can be there for donkeys like Scotty and Thomas