Our welfare officers in Northern Ireland are currently dealing with an influx of abandoned donkeys.
There is poorly Millie, who was abandoned recently in a farmer’s field in County Tyrone and whose long and twisted hooves may have caused her permanent damage; yet to be confirmed.
There is Archie, who was spotted running loose along a main road by a member of the public and who is now being cared for by Marie in our holding base in Strabane. Poor Archie was so incredibly thin and neglected that even the vet was taken aback by his condition. Hot on the heels of Archie two further donkeys were taken into our care in February after they had been roaming for months in the Strabane area and finally ended up in someone’s garden. As well as Millie, Archie, Morgan and Lindsay (and many more) Welfare Officer Marie McCormack is caring for Miranda, a pregnant mare who was abandoned in May 2013 and whose foal is now due. At least her foal is assured a loving home…
Elsewhere in Northern Ireland (near Belfast), our Welfare Officer, Jane Bruce, is caring for the tall and handsome (and very nervous) Aslak, who was abandoned on a farmer’s land in Armagh in January.
Luckily we got to him before the two-year-old’s behaviour and handling, as a tall and powerful stallion, became unmanageable and entrenched, says Jane. Thanks to her early intervention (as well as great kindness and the bond she immediately felt with the stallion) she is now confident that the youngster will develop into a very well-mannered donkey.
Jane is no stranger to looking after abandoned donkeys- being on the receiving end of the tide of abandonments that the province has experienced in recent months and years. Last autumn she ventured to the foothills of the Newry mountains to help catch a pair of donkeys described as “wild as crows” whom she later found to be “gentle giants”. One of the duo was blind in one eye and completely reliant on his friend. Their “amazing bond” could teach us all a lesson, says Jane.
Other missions took her to Ballycastle, Co. Antrim, to rescue “Moonshine” who was abandoned on the streets after his owner failed to sell him at Lammas Fair, and to a forest outside Garvagh where Jane went in search of an elusive donkey who had been roaming the wild for months and who was finally lured with sandwiches.
No matter how many abandoned donkeys Jane and Marie encounter- and the two of them have been the first to witness some of the most distressing cases we have ever encountered such as the sad cases of Johnny, James and Molly -they remain saddened at the traumas the innocent creatures have suffered.
Jane and Marie continue to work tirelessly to try and correct the wrongs that have been done to these abandoned and neglected creatures and to restore their confidence and trust in human beings. No easy task.