International animal welfare charity The Donkey Sanctuary has today rescued 15 donkeys, 9 mules and a hinny from starvation from an equine trader forty miles from Rome, Italy.
The donkeys and mules were rescued as part of a group of 104 equines, including many foals, that had been reported to the authorities after their owner, an equine trader, had left them without food or shelter. The fields where they were found in Colleferro in the province of Rome also contained the bodies and bones of countless horses and donkeys that had already starved to death.
All 15 of the rescued donkeys are dangerously underweight and many have painfully overgrown hooves. The Italian authorities are beginning legal proceedings against the owner and have asked The Donkey Sanctuary to care for these animals. The charity is in the process of organising emergency shelter and veterinary care for these animals and is working with the Italian Horse Protection Association to arrange care for the rescued horses.
The Donkey Sanctuary’s manager of European operations, Andrew Judge, is currently on the scene and yesterday reported: “Too many times on this trip I have been shocked with the cruelty we faced. Today I saw a large number of dead equines spread out on the land and buildings in front of me. It was shocking to think that these beautiful animals had just starved to death and been left where they fell for scavengers to eat them. I felt ashamed to be human today and angry at the indifferent people who see these problems every day but do nothing.”
The Donkey Sanctuary operates an Italian Sanctuary, Il Rifugio degli Asinelli, near Turin and, once the prosecution case is complete, this group of rescued donkeys, mules and hinny will be given a Sanctuary for life.
The Donkey Sanctuary has been working in Italy since 2004. The donkey population in Italy is estimated to be 24,000 and they are used mainly for producing milk or meat, which is sold in markets in salami form and served up in restaurant stews. They are also used for transportation in rural farming areas and holiday trekking.