When the welfare team at our sanctuary in Spain received a picture of the ‘saddest looking donkey they had ever seen’ they immediately sprang into action.

The man who had found her and sent the picture was desperately seeking help for this donkey – named Flor by the team – who was almost completely hairless and covered in wounds.

Hairless Flor
Flor arrived at El Refugio del Burrito almost completely hairless.
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'The saddest looking donkey we had ever seen'

When they arrived at the location, the donkey hero guided us to the place where Flor was. At first, they were worried as she was nowhere to be seen. After searching for over an hour in almost 40C degree heat, with fears growing for her standing in the sun with her bare skin exposed, the team were relieved to finally see her hidden away in a shaded area.

Chus Moreno, communications coordinator who attended the rescue, said: “Flor was the saddest looking donkey we had ever seen. She had virtually no hair, her skin was infected, her body covered in wounds and crawling with flies. She came to us easily and quietly, allowing us to put the harness on and came into the van without any problem, as if she knew we were there to help. I was so sad for Flor, but kept telling myself that she was finally safe - and that was the most important thing”.

Flor receiving her daily bath
Flor received daily baths to help her skin heal.
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Kickstarting Flor's recovery

Flor was taken straight to the sanctuary, and into the new arrivals area where she was isolated from the other donkeys for biosecurity reasons. We had to be sure that her condition wasn’t contagious, before introducing her to the herd. Our vets gave her a full health check, and took blood samples, biopsies and skin scrapings to be analysed in the laboratory.

While waiting for the results of her tests, grooms got to work on Flor’s recovery, and making her more comfortable. She was given working medication to rid her of internal parasites. Flor received daily baths with antibacterial shampoo, and medicated lotions applied to help her delicate skin heal and to keep the flies away from her wounds. She was allowed to rest peacefully in the shade of her own shelter with plenty of bedding, and given plenty of quality food to eat. Her grooms said she settled in straight away, and it was like she’d been there her whole life! Although still quiet, she seems content and is very friendly towards people, despite what she’s been through.

Flor in recovery
Flor has started to recover from her ordeal.
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Looking to the future

Flor’s test results have now come back, and thankfully have shown that she has no serious underlying health problems. She doesn’t have a viral or contagious skin condition, and her lack of hair and wounds are most likely due to the conditions she was kept in before being abandoned and a lack of appropriate care. It’s upsetting to think of how Flor must have been living, and how she had been allowed to get in such a state before being left out to fend for herself.

We are all so grateful to the kind neighbour who alerted us to Flor’s situation, and thankful that we were able to get there in time to save her – if left for much longer, the painful infection in her skin could have spread and overwhelmed her. Although it will be many months before her skin is fully healed and her hair grows back, she is safe now. Her grooms cannot wait to see her with a healthy coat, and for her to experience the pleasure of being gently brushed down after a roll in the paddock.

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