Jemimah and Snowball were rescued from their unsuitable environment and are now safe in our care.

A man has been disqualified from keeping equines following a prosecution brought by the RSPCA. The owner had previously failed to comply with advice from both the RSPCA and ourselves and pleaded guilty to three animal welfare offences.

The offences included the unnecessary suffering of 13-year-old Jemimah, by failing to meet her basic welfare needs and not seeking veterinary treatment for laminitis and adequate dental care. Another offence related to four-year-old Snowball, Jemimah’s daughter. Again, her basic welfare needs were not being met; including the failure to provide continuous access to a clean supply of freshwater and a suitable and safe environment to live in. The owner had also failed to provide Snowball with adequate foot care.

RSPCA Inspector Rebecca Goulding and two of our welfare advisers discovered the donkeys living on a waste site that contained many dangerous objects. The grass cover was sparse and the foraging provided for the two donkeys was wet and covered in mud and faeces. They found that there was no area of the field that was safe or suitable for the donkeys.

The owner advised the donkeys had access to water in a dustbin, but the water level was too low down for the donkeys to reach.

Veterinary surgeon, Dr Suzanne Green from Greenway Equine Veterinary Services, was called to assess the donkeys’ conditions and found that Jemimah was extremely lame with laminitis. She had an overgrown foot and was in a lot of pain. The owner told the vet; “...the donkey had been like that for 10 years and that it was fine”.

Snowball’s feet were overgrown and starting to curl upwards. She had thrush and severe white line disease in all four of her feet.

Both donkeys were also found to have extremely sharp teeth and there was no evidence of previous dental work having been done.

The vet recommended the donkeys be removed from the site and West Yorkshire Police took them into possession, passing them into the RSPCA’s care. The donkeys were transported to a holding base we fund so they could receive specialist care and start their rehabilitation.

The Magistrates stated this was a serious case and that Jemimah had suffered significantly. The two donkeys had not been provided with water, adequate vet treatment or farrier care and, in short, the donkeys’ needs were not met.

Following the sentencing hearing Hannah Bryer, our Head of Welfare, said: “We know that taking care of donkeys is a hugely rewarding experience, and it really is a privilege to own such endearing animals, but it comes with great responsibility. Donkeys require caring and compassionate management to ensure they lead healthy and enriched lives.”

More than year has passed since Snowball and Jemima were rescued and although we have done all we can to keep Jemimah comfortable during her rehabilitation, her irreversible chronic hoof condition can only be managed.

Keira Benham, Donkey Welfare Adviser from The Donkey Sanctuary said: “Jemimah’s quality of life is being closely monitored and should her condition deteriorate, we will have to seriously consider the option of euthanasia as the last kind decision we make for her.

“We have prepared for this possibility by introducing Snowball and Jemimah to another donkey called Dolly, who is of a similar age, which mitigates the risk of Snowball suffering from stress if she were to lose her companion mum.”

Despite some uncertainties, both Jemimah and Snowball now have a much brighter future. They are getting all the love and care they need with Dolly at their side.

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