Sixteen neglected donkeys who were abandoned in a field to survive on puddle water and tree bark have been rescued by The Donkey Sanctuary in Ireland.

Among the desperate donkeys was the carcass of a donkey for whom the winter conditions had just been too much. 

Responding to a call from the local government, donkey welfare adviser David Walsh attended the horrific scene and knew right away that he needed to get the donkeys to emergency accommodation. 

Drinking puddles

“These donkeys were abandoned with no food or water,” said David. “The donkeys had resorted to drinking water from puddles and were trying to eat tree branches because they were so hungry. 

“To see these lovely animals huddled together in misery with a dead donkey in plain sight was horrific.”

The harsh winter weather had left the field they were in waterlogged, and the severely underweight donkeys were struggling to walk on overgrown hooves which were in urgent need of farrier attention. 


Rescued donkey from County Mayo, Ireland
Donkey rescued from County Mayo, Ireland with overgrown hooves
Donkey rescued from County Mayo, Ireland requiring urgent hoof care

Taken to sanctuary

All of the donkeys, aged from two to 20 years old, were transported to The Donkey Sanctuary in Liscarroll where the expert veterinary team gave them a full assessment, identifying their individual needs. 

The dedicated team were able to treat the ill and feed the hungry – they’ll keep a watchful eye over the herd, monitoring their condition. 

It will take a long time for these donkeys to return to full health, but thanks to The Donkey Sanctuary supporters they are on the road to recovery. 

Road to recovery

With loving care, their matted and filthy coats have been groomed, their feet have been trimmed and their teeth have been checked by an equine dental technician.

They will be cared for and restored to full health, ready to enjoy a brighter future at The Donkey Sanctuary.

Noel Carton, head of operations at The Donkey Sanctuary Ireland, said: “We are grateful to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in Mayo for alerting us to the presence of these donkeys. We can now begin the process of getting them back to full health at The Donkey Sanctuary.”