An emergency team from Devon-based charity The Donkey Sanctuary arrived in Barbuda in the Caribbean yesterday (Monday 2 October) to help the feral donkey population on the island following Hurricane Irma. The donkeys currently risk hindering the rebuilding efforts by straying onto the local airport runway.

The emergency team of four will be looking to assess the welfare of the donkeys. They will also establish links with authorities to support the local airport, Codrington Airport, which had its perimeter fencing damaged by the hurricane. They will be looking to come up with short-term and longer-term fencing solutions to prevent the donkeys straying onto the airport runway to minimise their impact on the efforts now being made to rebuild the island’s infrastructure.

Simon Pope, Rapid Response and Campaigns Manager at The Donkey Sanctuary says: “The feral donkey population has gravitated towards the airport after Barbuda was evacuated – attracted by the grassy open spaces next to the runway. The donkeys, from what we have seen, are in good condition, but in order for the airport to return to full working order, we need to look at the short-term and long-term fencing solutions.

We are meeting with airport officials today (Tuesday 3 October) and will continue to help other animal charities on the ground in Barbuda to reconnect pet owners with their animals that had to be left behind.  We have already seen for ourselves just how much some dogs were in despair from a lack of human company.”

The Donkey Sanctuary has been invited to Barbuda by the Antigua and Barbuda Human Society, and joins World Animal Protection, who have been helping provide immediate assistance to help abandoned animals (largely dogs, cats and livestock) on the island as well as providing specific expertise on donkey welfare.

The Donkey Sanctuary team is made up of John Leach, Executive Director of Resources, Kevin Brown, vet and welfare expert, Rob Nichols, care and welfare expert and Simon Pope, Rapid Response and Campaigns Manager. They will assess the situation in Barbuda fully, and are currently making contact with organisations involved in providing animal welfare care on other impacted islands, including Dominica.