The team at our sanctuary in Spain has been overwhelmed in recent weeks by the number of abandonment cases being reported to them.

Veronica Sanchez, country manager for the sanctuary in Spain says:

“The summertime is normally very busy, with abandonment and mistreatment cases. We have the same pattern every year, during the summertime welfare cases increase – this is mostly because more people go on holidays to the rural areas where most donkeys and mules are, and report back to us when they have seen an animal in need.

Owners of equines take them to the fields to eat, where they stay tied up and are more visible than in the winter, when they are more likely to stay in enclosures, private paddocks and stables.

Also, the hot weather increases the probability of welfare problems such as lack of shade, lack of water, allergies, and any wounds will quickly become infected and attract flies.”

Pedro in his stable
Pedro is just one of the donkeys that El Refugio del Burrito have provided sanctuary for.
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Chica's neglect

Most recently El Refugio del Burrito came to the rescue of Chica, an abandoned donkey in a terrible state of neglect.

Chica, an elderly mare, had been left tied to a lamppost in the province of Badajoz, Extremadura. With no food, water or shelter from the elements, Chica would not have survived for long. Her coat was matted, her feet were long and she was so painfully thin.

Thankfully, workers from a company nearby spotted that Chica had been left there unattended for several days, and decided to take her into a fenced area of land on their company property while they called for help. The SEPRONA (Animal and Environment Civil Guard) came to investigate and immediately contacted us about the deplorable state of the animal and asked for help.

Chica grazing
Chica was taken to a fenced area of land while she waited for our team could collect her.
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Supporting Chica's recovery

Chica was brought into our care, and a treatment plan was put in place immediately to support her recovery. The most urgent need to address was Chica’s poor body condition and weakness. She wasn’t eating, and that was obviously a great concern for the team.

Her teeth were checked by an equine dentist and found to be in a poor shape, which is often a reason for weight loss as eating becomes painful. She was found to have food stuck between gaps in her teeth (called diastema), which causes pain when chewing, food packing and severe gum disease. It’s no wonder she didn’t want to eat.

After having her mouth flushed out, and all the sharp hooks and edges removed from her teeth, her mouth must have felt so much more comfortable. Chica will need regular appointments with the equine dentist to keep her teeth clean and ensure no more food gets lodged. Now that eating would be pain-free for Chica, she was given a diet of high quality food to help her gain weight, and she was also administered a de-worming medication to rid her of any internal parasites.

Chica’s feet needed to be trimmed by a qualified farrier. They were long and had become deformed, with scarring to her legs – all obvious signs of having been hobbled inappropriately (a common practice where an animal’s legs are tied together to prevent them straying).

As well as urgent veterinary, dental and farriery care, Chica also received some care from the grooms to help her feel more comfortable. Some of her matted coat was clipped away, she was given a gentle brush down and shown love and affection. They provided her with a shelter and soft bedding so she could rest happily. Her grooms describe Chica as a gentle and trusting donkey.

Chica's teeth
Chica's teeth were in poor shape, which was making it painful for her to eat.
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Safe from suffering

It’s incredibly sad to think how Chica was abandoned, at approximately 30-years-old. It is likely she spent her life working hard for her owner, only to be discarded when no longer of any use. We are, however, so thankful to the SEPRONA for contacting us, and also for the kindness of the workers at the company who took Chica in.

Chica will now receive the care and respect she so deserves, and the company of the many other donkeys who have been in a similar position to her, who are also now safe from suffering.

Help us support more donkeys in need