Senior Welfare Adviser Hannah Bryer on a plucky donkey who made a remarkable recovery.

One of the most common questions we're asked as donkey welfare advisers is ‘how do we cope when we have to deal with donkeys who are suffering?’ The answer: 'It's not easy.'

Being confronted by an animal in desperate need of help evokes all kinds of feelings, and it would be easy to allow our emotions to take over. However, in that moment, we have a real ability to bring about positive change, so we need to identify a way forward that has the best welfare outcome for the donkey.

Sometimes the animals themselves are the best source of inspiration. The courage and resilience shown by animals in the most desperate of situations, never ceases to amaze me. There is a famous quote by Helen Keller which says: ‘Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.’ I would like to introduce you all to a little donkey called Lucy whose courage and character has enabled her to do just that.

Lucy is a six-year-old donkey who came into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary back in October 2015. When we found Lucy, she was so thin that the bony prominences of her ribs, hips, and spine were easy to see. Her hooves were overgrown and misshapen, which was affecting her ability to walk normally. Her coat was dull, dirty and matted in places.

We worked with the RSPCA to rescue her and as a result she was passed into our care. A vet was called to examine Lucy who decided she was fit enough to make the journey to an emergency holding base where she could receive further care.

Andy, a local transporter, who came to collect Lucy describes the moment he first saw her: "Whenever you get a call from the welfare agencies, you never quite know what you are going to find when you get there.

"When I walked around the corner and saw Lucy for the first time she was in such a sorry state. I have never seen a donkey so thin. She was cold, wet and looked thoroughly miserable.

"I just wanted to do the very best to help her, we all did, but when it came to loading her onto the lorry she had other ideas. This was the first time Lucy showed us not to under estimate her strength and determination, and I am pleased to say, it was not the last."

Once Lucy had settled into her new stable it soon became obvious that she was reluctant to eat and drink. Many hours were spent trying to encourage Lucy to eat, using a variety of tasty treats such as carrots, apples, biscuits and what were to become her favourite, bananas. Grooms warmed the water they offered Lucy and even diluted it with apple juice in an attempt to make it more appealing.

The next day a vet gave her a more thorough examination and was able to examine her teeth using a metal gag to hold her mouth open safely. He identified several concerns regarding her dental health and said the poor condition of her teeth was the likely cause of her reluctance to eat or drink.

Lucy was given a course of pain relief and antibiotics to make her more comfortable whilst arrangements were made for the next stage of her treatment, something many of us dread – a visit from the dentist.

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