The Donkey Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare swung into action to provide essential food and support to hundreds of donkeys and horses left stranded following January’s earthquake and extraordinary snowfall in Abruzzo, Italy.

Food is arriving today at Abruzzo, Italy to help animals who have been left trapped and starving in snow following multiple earthquakes that took place in January. The Donkey Sanctuary has joined forces with World Horse Welfare to provide food and hay to donkeys, horses and other livestock.

The Abruzzo region of Italy was hit by an earthquake on 17/18 January which caused devastating avalanches in the area, while an extraordinary amount of snow (over 3 metres) made it more difficult for emergengy services to reach humans and animals in need. Many towns and communities have been cut off with no power. Farmers and animal owners can’t get feed or hay to their animals who have now been several days without food.

In addition to today’s delivery of 5,250kg of equine hard feed, another 13,000kg of hay and straw will be delivered on Monday. The charities are also funding vets to be on standby to provide emergency care for donkeys and horses in need.

The Donkey Sanctuary’s Chief Executive, Mike Baker, said: “The perfect storm of earthquakes, torrential snow and avalanches have left thousands of animals in a desperate state. We’ve rushed the first delivery of food aid to them today, with more planned next week, but it is a race against time to save them.

“We’re pleased to be collaborating with World Horse Welfare on this and supporting the Army and emergency services who are working hard to re-establish the roads and powerlines. With earthquakes still happening and no sign of the snow melting, there is no doubt that these deliveries and the support of our veterinary team will help to save the lives of many animals.”

World Horse Welfare Chief Executive, Roly Owers, said: “World Horse Welfare is pleased to work in partnership with The Donkey Sanctuary to provide much needed emergency aid and feed supplies to the many equines which have been affected by the earthquakes and terrible weather conditions afflicting the area over recent weeks.

“Collaborative working is central to our work in both the UK and internationally with the old adage of ‘better together’ ringing true in any situation but even more so when a rapid and effective response is needed to a crisis such as the situation in Abruzzo.”

The charity has launched a campaign to raise funds to support these emergency food deliveries.