Dotty the mule is heading for a life of sanctuary after Appleby abandonment.

Appleby Horse Fair is the largest gathering of traveller communities and is held annually in the town of Appleby-in-Westmorland in Cumbria. 

This year, The Donkey Sanctuary attended alongside charities such as the Blue Cross and the RSPCA to treat animals and offer advice to owners.

Among the problems witnessed by the team were lameness, poor farriery, animals in poor condition, overworked animals and – given the heat at this year’s event – exhaustion.

Our team spotted Dotty being driven in a harness and as a small, dun-coloured mule, she stood out among the hundreds of horses.

Once the fair had finished, The Donkey Sanctuary’s team were heading back to Devon when Dotty was found loose nearby with no sign of the owner.

She was taken to the safety of nearby Appleby Police Station and enquiries began to locate an owner and for arrangements to be made for her ongoing care.

Our Derbyshire sanctuary remains on call during the equine fair, and as staff were ready to offer her a temporary home straight away, Dotty was transported the same day.

Dotty’s hooves were overgrown, but she had a friendly nature and she was loving and keen to be in the company of the RSPCA and police station staff who all immediately fell in love with her.

The Donkey Sanctuary’s head of welfare, Hannah Bryer, said: “Of course it is always disappointing to see any equine abandoned or disguarded, especially at an event like Appleby with a high presence of welfare teams who are there to help.

“Dotty is an incredibly sweet-natured mule so it is heart-breaking to think what would have happened had the welfare team at Appleby not spotted her plight.

“I am incredibly grateful to the RSPCA and police who helped provide a safe place for Dotty until we could find her a more permanent place to stay and of course to our supporters who kindness means that our teams can be there on the frontline to help donkeys and mules wherever they may be in the UK.”

The RSPCA left ‘stray notices’ at the scene, giving the owner 14 days to come forward. This has now expired and Dotty is in the process of being legally signed over into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary where she will get all the medical checks, treatments and care that she needs.