When a routine welfare inspection unearthed the devastating truth about 14 donkeys, The Donkey Sanctuary Ireland stepped in to provide them a road to recovery.

In March, Welfare Adviser Ciara O'Kelly visited a farm in County Cork to check the welfare of a group of donkeys on our Donkey Welfare Improvement Scheme (DWIS), which aims to provide advice and guidance to donkey owners in Ireland.

Ciara was eager to see how they were progressing since her last visit. When she arrived, however, she was alarmed at the deterioration in welfare conditions since she last saw the herd.

The 14 donkeys - including foals and pregnant mares - were housed together in a shed that was too small for their needs. They were thin and dirty with matted coats, and several were showing hoof problems.

Two donkeys stand by trough at rescue scene, Ireland
A particularly thin donkey stands by a dirty water trough at rescue scene, Ireland.
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Ciara was concerned for the welfare of the whole group, and in particular for the four pregnant mares forced to live in such confined, unsanitary conditions.

After speaking to Ciara at length, the owner revealed that his own deterioration in health had impeded his ability to look after the donkeys.

With the owner recognising the need for his donkeys to have access to immediate care, he agreed to relinquish them to The Donkey Sanctuary. Arrangements were made for the group to travel to the sanctuary in Liscarroll in two trips, opening the door for them to start a new life.

The herd arrive at their new home.

The cost of neglect for Irish herd

All fourteen donkeys arrived safely at their new home in Liscarroll. Following closer inspection, however, the real cost of the donkeys' poor living conditions soon became apparent to their vets and grooms.

In three cases, the herd suffered upsetting losses: two of the pregnant mares in the group lost their foals.

Tulip, a sweet and quiet mare, was diagnosed with chronic arthritis from an old injury and was showing severe muscle wastage. So great was her discomfort that our team of vets decided the kindest thing to do for her was to put her to sleep.

The road to rehabilitation

After such a difficult journey in life, the herd can now look to a future full of love and care. Building their trust in humans will take time, patience and perseverance - but thankfully, our expert team at The Donkey Sanctuary Ireland have been working tirelessly to ensure the donkeys can live out the rest of their lives in comfort.

There is a particularly bright future ahead for two new members of the group: the two happy and healthy foals born in our care following the rescue of their mothers. For these two youngsters, their future is a far cry from the life their mothers led. With no memories to make them mistrustful of human contact, they are already boldly stepping forwards into a life without fear.

Ireland Rescue Roy
Roy - born at The Donkey Sanctuary Ireland following his mother's rescue during pregnancy.
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Stay tuned to our digital channels as we meet more of the resilient Irish herd over the coming weeks.

Give donkeys a brighter future