When our welfare team in Ireland received details of a challenging welfare concern, they kicked into gear, rescuing and rehoming five donkeys, as well as organising initial care for several other species.

The rescue site

Emily Collins, one of our wonderful Donkey Welfare Advisers in Ireland, arrived at an incredibly complex welfare case after being made aware of a group of donkeys with long hooves. The five donkeys shared the site with 33 cats, 83 cattle, over 100 sheep and an elderly pony. All animals needed urgent attention.

Emily proactively implemented a plan to quickly and effectively address all the immediate welfare issues, bringing in an equine vet and farrier to treat the lame and injured animals. She then began several days of visits to give follow-up care, including administering prescribed antibiotics and pain relief.

It became apparent that long-term changes were needed to improve the welfare of all the animals on site. Refusing to leave any animal behind, Emily involved the DAFM (Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine) and the ISPCA. They both agreed to step in to ensure that the cattle, sheep, pony, and cats all received care. Sadly, the elderly pony and one cow with a leg injury had to be put to sleep.

Discovering the donkeys

When Emily had first arrived at the site, she carefully picked her way through rusty cars and other obstacles, soon coming across two tethered donkey stallions with their heads hanging. Both animals had infected, open wounds and long deformed hooves. The heavy chains used to prevent the stallions from fighting with each other had left uncomfortable rub marks on their bodies.

Nearby in an empty fodder shed, three young donkeys huddled in a filthy pen. One young donkey looked like a mare in foal due to its swollen tummy, but Emily quickly realised it was a colt with a heavy worm burden. An emaciated yearling struggled to get to his feet. He also showed signs of a high worm burden, and the mare, who was in a similar state, fled around the small area in panic. With their long and rotting hooves, every step was agony for these poor donkeys. Their only food source was a bale of black silage, which they were eating through necessity.

Safe in the knowledge that the welfare of the other animal species was in hand, Emily turned her full attention to how we could find new, loving homes for the five donkeys.

Planning for pastures new

As Emily made multiple visits to the donkeys, she began to establish the bonding within the group and identify some important behaviour and personality traits displayed by the donkeys. 

Lily is a single gentle mare. OB and Seanie are two mature and confident stallions, and Teddy and Eric are a bonded pair of yearling colts. Four new homes would be needed to ensure these donkeys had a bright future.

Due to years of neglect, each donkey required further aftercare, and the animals needed to go to experienced homes where they could continue their rehabilitation.

Emily reached out to her colleagues in our welfare team, looking for suitable homes for the five donkeys. The team quickly formed a plan to remove all the animals in one day.

Rehoming success

Despite being a large and varied group, Emily found warm and loving homes for all the rescued donkeys. With complex care needs a key consideration, our team needed to find new owners based on the individual needs of each donkey.

The team found four homes and prepared the donkeys and new owners for the move, providing expert advice to help ensure that the donkeys and their new families have a bright and safe future.

Please scroll through the image gallery below to see the donkeys safe and happy in their new homes:

Can you help?

Complex rescues like this are made possible through your generous support