Last New Year’s Eve marked a new start for one forlorn donkey in Northern Ireland.

Echo’s journey to a better life began when Jane Bruce, one of The Donkey Sanctuary’s welfare advisers, responded to a call from a member of the public who was concerned about a donkey with extremely long hooves. When Jane found the donkey, Echo, she could see he was in a shocking state.

“The neglect of Echo’s hooves stands out as one of the worst cases that I have witnessed,” she says. “His hooves had curled round so grossly that they were almost touching his forelegs. He was shifting his weight from one foot to another in order to alleviate the pain in his hooves. He could not be left to continue to suffer in this state”.

Jane immediately contacted the local Council welfare officer who attended and actioned seizure of the donkey. Echo was brought safely into our care, with the beginning of 2018 marking the start of his road to recovery. Mistrusting and nervous, it was clear he had had little social interaction of a positive nature. Echo is only three years old and sadly may not have had his hooves trimmed at all during his young life.

Echo
Echo with groom
Echo's hooves on arrival

Our grooms worked hard to gain Echo’s trust, to enable them to give him the proper care he needed. He received a full veterinary assessment to check his overall health. His hooves were x-rayed and he had his first trim to remove all the excess hoof horn, after which he was like a different donkey.

Echo has responded well to human interaction and despite his initial uncertainty over new situations he is proving to be a lovable and courageous soul.

"Echo has come on leaps and bounds over the last few months since coming into our care,” says Jane Bruce. “He is growing in confidence and is now learning to trust humans again. He will come up to me for feed and treats and is more accepting of being handled and fussed over! He really is a lovely donkey. 

“His hooves, which were so severely neglected, are being closely monitored and he has received several remedial farrier trims to ensure that they continue to grow correctly. Thankfully he continues to be free from any pain, lameness and permanent hoof damage. We are hoping to castrate him shortly so that he has a good quality of life and can mingle with safely with the other donkeys in the herd.”