A farmer has been fined and banned from keeping donkeys and horses for 10 years after allowing the condition of a group of donkeys under his care to deteriorate to the point where two had to be put to sleep.

Carluke rescue donkey's hooves

On Tuesday 26 March 2019, two Scottish SPCA inspectors visited a farm after a member of the public raised concerns about suspected animal neglect. The inspectors found eleven donkeys living in fields with scrap metal and debris and no shelter, leaving them susceptible to harm and completely exposed to the weather.

Some of the donkeys had feet so badly deformed they struggled to walk. Some were underweight and had bald patches on their coats. The owner advised the inspectors that the donkeys had not seen a vet for several years.

The SPCA returned with Hannah Bryer, our Head of Welfare, Suzanne Green from Greenway Equine Veterinary Services and two Field Officers from World Horse Welfare. The hooves were confirmed as having become so overgrown that some of the donkeys would be unable to bear weight properly again.

In total, 11 donkeys were removed from the farmer’s care. Unfortunately, two were put to sleep on veterinary instruction to relieve their suffering.

The remaining nine are now in our care. It has been a long process to return the nine donkeys back to full health, with all of them requiring special diets to help build their weight back up. They have also received much needed farrier care and dental treatment.

Rebuilding trust takes time, but the donkeys are now getting used to being handled by their dedicated grooms and will continue to receive the highest level of care and attention that they deserve.

Hannah Bryer, Head of Welfare at The Donkey Sanctuary, said: “Cases like these are extremely distressing and highlight the terrible neglect that sadly some donkeys continue to experience in Great Britain today. Owning donkeys is a hugely rewarding experience and a wonderful privilege.

“Donkeys require caring and compassionate management to ensure they lead healthy and enriched lives. Donkeys are incredibly stoic animals by their nature, often the true extent of their suffering is misunderstood, however there is no doubt in this case that the suffering and pain endured by these donkeys would have been noticeable to anyone.

“Our welfare team continue to work to improve the lives of donkeys and mules in our communities through expert advice, guidance and support.’’

The owner was handed a £300 fine and a 10-year ban on owning donkeys or horses at a hearing at Campbeltown Sheriff Court on 14 October.

The owner pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to eight donkeys under Section 19 of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 in September 2020.