When a member of the public contacted us with concerns for the welfare of three donkeys in rural Wales, The Donkey Sanctuary joined forces with the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare to bring them to safety.

Our work to improve the lives of donkeys and mules takes us to all corners of the globe, but it also takes us to the remotest of locations right here in the UK.

Tewsday Herbert and Hannah Bryer from our welfare team set out to find the trio in the early hours of the morning in one of The Donkey Sanctuary’s rescue vehicles. After over an hour of hillside driving on a rocky trail, Doris, Ned and Dora were finally found.

Immediate care

The donkeys were certified to be suffering by a local vet, who identified that two of them had grossly overgrown hooves, while Dora had been subject to a crude ‘DIY’ trim.

With the support of the experienced equine vet, the donkeys were removed to the care of an emergency holding base where they could begin their road to recovery. Dung and blood samples were taken and sent to a laboratory to test for any underlying illnesses, they were given pain relief to alleviate their suffering, and vaccinations were administered.

Sadly, cases like this are easily prevented with the provision of basic hoof care and maintenance, yet they occur all too commonly here in Great Britain,” says Hannah Bryer, head of welfare. “The donkeys have been relinquished to us, so their futures are safe and secure under our care.

Tewsday Herbert with Doris, Dora and Ned
Doris, Dora and Ned showing their overgrown hooves
Grossly overgrown hooves on Welsh rescue donkey
Tewsday Herbert from The Donkey Sanctuary's welfare team meets the pitiful trio, who all had grossly neglected hooves.

A fresh start for Doris, Dora and Ned

While in temporary care, the donkeys’ feet were also x-rayed to assess any potential damage caused by the inappropriate foot care before receiving a visit from an expert farrier, helping them to make great strides towards a full recovery.

Doris had a sore skin problem and needed to be clipped and treated, but now her fur is growing back she seems a lot happier and healthier.

Tewsday adds: “The difference in them has been great to see. Before, they were on painkillers and needed to be in a barn with a deep bed, but now they are off their medication and have a lovely big yard where they enjoy playing and running around.

All three are really bonded, and the plan for them now will be to travel to the sanctuary in Devon where they will be introduced to a new herd and begin a behaviour training programme.”

Hannah Bryer reflects on the successful rescue of these three fast friends: “Through our work we have the opportunity to reach out to, engage with and influence donkey owners to demonstrate good welfare practices, and cases like this are a great reminder of why our UK welfare work is so important."