We helped to avert a potential disaster by rescuing two abandoned donkeys near a major road. Read on to find out more about the story.

Assessing the situation

Following reports of a donkey mare and foal running loose in a field next to the busy A47 in Norfolk, our welfare team stepped in to rescue them and provide them with a safe, loving home.

Abbie and Timmy could have found themselves in a hazardous situation if they ventured onto the busy dual carriageway, as they posed a real risk to drivers who could have crashed into them, causing a fatal incident.

With only a thin hedge separating five-year-old Abbie and five-month-old Timmy from cars and lorries hurtling down the busy road at speeds of 70 miles per hour, their situation was dire.

The rescue

Following a call from the landowner, Donkey Welfare Adviser Sue Field coordinated Abbie and Timmy’s rescue on 7 September 2020.

Sue says: “It was imperative to move very quickly, both for the sake of Abbie and Timmy and to reduce the potential of a major incident on what is a very busy arterial road.”

Sue made enquiries with the RSPCA and local police in case the donkeys had been reported missing, but none had been recorded. By working with the landowner and a local holding base, the donkeys were found in nearby woodland.

Sue says: “It was very difficult to catch Abbie and Timmy in such a large open space. They were already naturally cautious, so they had to be approached with a calm and relaxed mindset.”

Three hours later, Abbie and Timmy were safely loaded and transported to our local holding base.

As the donkeys had been found on private land, the landowner was able to follow the process set out in the Control of Horses Act to legally take possession of the donkeys in the absence of any contact from the owner. This process takes four working days and requires landowners to serve notices where the donkeys were found and to report the actions to the police.

Sue says: “Once the four days pass, the landowner becomes the legal owner of the donkeys and is able to make arrangements for their future care or sale as they wish. “The landowner was unable to keep the donkeys and it was agreed for them to pass into our permanent care.

“This rescue was unusual as the donkeys were found in reasonable condition, they were both generally healthy with no signs of illness. It is still a mystery as to why and how they ended up in this situation.”

A welcome surprise

Abbie and Timmy have since been welcomed to our New Arrivals unit, where it was discovered that Abbie is in the early stages of pregnancy.

Sara Blair-Salter, New Arrivals Manager, says: “On arrival we ensure all our donkeys are checked over by our vets. This helps us to understand any individual care needs they may have, which includes checking if mares are in foal.

“We estimated that Abbie was approximately three months into her pregnancy.

“Since arriving with us, Timmy will come over to say hello and have a scratch. He is a very inquisitive foal, and very comfortable being handled, whereas Abbie is quite shy.

“She will approach, but is quite nervous so we will have to do a lot of work with that ahead of her foaling.

“It is important that she is comfortable with us handling her newborn foal in the future."

Going forward, Abbie and Timmy will be placed in one of our sanctuaries until Abbie is ready to foal. Timmy will then be introduced to some other young donkeys while Abbie focuses on her foal, which is expected to arrive in the autumn.

With your support, we can always be there for donkeys like Abbie and Timmy