You may have seen Rocky, Jenny and Eidie on TV in December 2019 when their story featured on Channel 5’s Help the Animals, but do you remember their story?

Following concerns over the welfare of a group of donkeys, Hannah Bryer, our Head of Welfare, went out to visit them. All three were showing severe overgrowth and distortion on their hooves, and were exhibiting an abnormal gait when they walked. Unfortuntely, their owner declined any help and refused to discuss the issue further.

Hannah later visited the property again. This time she went with an RSPCA inspector, Donkey Welfare Adviser Pam Moon, a World Horse Welfare field officer and two officers from the Derbyshire Police. On arrival, all three donkeys were lying down on the open grazing land that surrounded the property. There had been no improvement to their hooves since the first visit and a veterinary surgeon certified that the donkeys were suffering.

Discussions took place between the RSPCA and the owner who indicated that he would relinquish ownership of the donkeys. The animals were loaded onto a transporter and taken to The Donkey Sanctuary’s premises in Derbyshire for housing and ongoing care. After receiving vital farrier treatment, Rocky, Jenny and Eidie – aged four, three and three respectively – were then moved to the New Arrivals unit in Sidmouth and then to their new home at Town Barton Farm three months later.

Paul Carter, Town Barton Farm Manager, noted that Jenny and Eidie appeared to be settling in quicker than Rocky, who has back issues stemming from his previously overgrown hooves. Grooms also noticed that Rocky, now living in a herd of 66, lacked confidence. He was notably reserved when receiving veterinary checks or exploring new places and he subsequently undertook training to help him overcome these behaviours. Hannah notes the importance of developing trust when trying to overcome behavioural problems such as lack of confidence:  “Spending time working out what makes him nervous, what makes him anxious, what might make him stressed.”

Rocky, Jenny and Eidie’s story mirrors the experiences of donkeys are still facing in the UK. Luckily, with the help and support we are able to provide them, they can be given a new lease of life in an environment that enables them to feel free and relaxed.

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