Beach donkeys working on Whitby's sands will be receiving their annual 'MOT' (health check) on Friday 4th July 2008. Around 20 donkeys will be checked by welfare officer Molly Lloyd from the Sidmouth-based Donkey Sanctuary and officials, including an equine vet, from Scarborough Borough Council, to ensure the donkeys are fit, healthy and licensed to work for the coming holiday season.
The checks take place at the donkeys' home in Sleights, North Yorkshire, commencing from 11.00 am. The checks include looking at:
- General health of each donkey, including condition of teeth, hooves, coat;
- Scanning the donkeys to check identification microchips;
- Condition of the tack (saddle and bridle).
Once passed, each donkey will receive a painless brand on their front hooves for visual identification.
Molly Lloyd, one of the Sanctuary's welfare officers, explains: "The annual health checks of beach donkeys is a great exercise and complements our new Code of Practice for working donkeys which was launched in April. The health checks reassure the public of the high standard of donkey care given by the owners and the commitment of local authorities, such as Scarborough Borough Council, towards the welfare of the donkeys and safety of the riders."
The Code of Practice for working donkeys came into effect on 4th April 2008 and is aimed at all local authorities with beach donkeys under their jurisdiction, to standardise levels of care and welfare throughout the UK.
The code includes recommendations such as:
- Donkeys should work no more than six days a week, with one full day of rest;
- Donkeys should have an hour’s break when working for long periods;
- A maximum weight limit for riders should not exceed eight stone or 51 kg.
The Donkey Sanctuary believes there are almost 850 donkeys working on Britain's beaches each year and works with beach donkey owners and local authorities to ensure donkeys remain happy in their work.