Four donkeys were brought into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary after their owner called for our assistance. Sadly, the call for help came too late for all of the donkeys to be recovered successfully.

Following a call to our Welfare Department for help from the owner of four donkeys in Derbyshire, welfare adviser Pam Moon paid a visit to assess the situation.

Looking after four donkeys is quite a commitment, and Mary, Moll, Benji and Jack’s owner had admitted that their busy lifestyle didn’t allow much time for them.

Sadly, Pam's visit revealed that the call for help had come in too late, and the lack of care had already caused some of the donkeys to suffer. Mary, Moll and foal Benji were severely underweight.

A collaborative effort

With the owner's agreement to relinquish them, the donkeys needed to be moved as soon as possible and without putting them through any unnecessary stress. Pam reached out to Bransby Horses Rescue and Welfare due to the fact that our closest holding bases were full, and our Sidmouth Sanctuary was too far a drive for the vulnerable animals.

Bransby Horses were only too happy to help, and the four donkeys were given well bedded stables, quality food and a thorough health check.

Jack, Benji, Mary and Moll at Bransby Horses
L-R: Jack, Benji, Mary and Moll at Bransby Horses.
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Hopes for recovery

Mary and her foal Benji needed a careful feeding plan to help them gain weight. Benji’s condition improved quickly, but Mary struggled to put weight on. She has been given a de-wormer and a course of steroids to help, but her physical recovery will be a longer process.

Jack, the stallion, had been kept separately from the mares and foals, and his weight was not a concern. Once sure he was fit and healthy, the vets performed a castration on Jack in line with our no-breeding policy.

Moll, the other mare, also received a special diet to help her gain weight. Staff noticed that, as well as having poor body condition, Moll had another serious problem. Moll was suffering from a severely prolapsed rectum, and despite multiple veterinary interventions, treatment was unsuccessful. She developed further complications, and the tough decision was made to gently put her to sleep to stop her suffering any further.

Saying goodbye

When Moll was put to sleep, Mary, Benji and Jack were given time to grieve the loss of their friend. Donkeys develop strong bonds with their companions, and it is essential that when a friend dies, they are allowed time with the body to understand that they are no longer alive. If this were to not happen, and the friend was to simply ‘disappear’, then welfare could be compromised. The remaining donkeys may show persistent wandering, pacing and braying as they look for the missing donkey. The effect of the stress can even bring on a hyperlipaemic crisis – a life threatening condition.

The three donkeys stood around Moll after she had been put to sleep, and were allowed the time they needed until staff were convinced they understood that she had gone. Benji, the youngest donkey, was very curious. He nuzzled her a few times, and then eventually walked away to join his mother Mary.

Benjy relaxes in the sunshine
Jack with Pam Moon
Mary and Benjy
Benji, Mary and Jack had the support of each other, along with the staff of The Donkey Sanctuary and Bransby Horses, to come to terms with Moll's passing.

The time and care they deserve

A few months on, Mary, Benji and Jack are all doing well, and have started to come out of their shells now that they are settled. Jack is proving to be full of fun and occasionally quite mischievous. Mary and Benji are also full of character, and their grooms described them as wonderful to look after.

Pam adds: “There is no doubt that without our intervention none of the four donkeys would have survived.

“It’s so sad that Moll had to be put to sleep, but we’re thankful that she is no longer suffering and that her companions will be given a forever home in our care.

“We are also thankful for the help and support received from Bransby Horses Rescue and Welfare as, by working together, we’ve been able to provide prompt and expert care to these donkeys in need.”

Donkeys like Mary, Moll, Benji and Jack need your help