Tommy and his friend Timmy were discovered in physical and emotional pain, starved of food and loving care, and struggling to survive in conditions of unimaginable squalor.

As part of an investigation involving The Donkey Sanctuary, World Horse Welfare, the RSPCA, Bransby Horses and the West Yorkshire Police, we arrived at the village of Gomersal following a worrying report about donkeys and ponies kept there.

We were met at the farm gate by the owner, who was both reluctant to let us visit or confirm how many animals he had on his property.

I heard a distant bray which fortunately led me to Timmy and Tommy, two desperate donkeys hidden away in separate enclosures of a barn.

Tommy was in a pitiful state. He was listless, looked as though he had given up on life, and was on the point of collapsing.

He was so thin I could see his bony spine and shoulders. His hooves were severely overgrown and misshapen, and he had bald patches on his coat. But his eyes moved me the most, they conveyed such sadness and showed he had already suffered so much.

Timmy was also in a terrible condition, but there were further complications. He was standing on so much soiled and impacted bedding that he was trapped inside his stable.

His ears were literally touching the ceiling and we knew there would be a lot of hard work involved in digging him out. The only positive thing about this awful situation was that he could see Tommy down below him.

I could tell instantly that these brave donkeys had a close bond, and I am sure this friendship had helped them cope with their physical and emotional ordeal.

Timmy's physical situation was difficult and it was obvious he was in severe pain.

His hooves had been savagely cut and I could see from their straight blunt edges that he had been subjected to a 'do-it-yourself' job instead of a professional trimming by a farrier.

We finally got Timmy out of the stable, the stench as we dug him out was overpowering, and as soon as he was released, he limped towards Tommy.

They had suffered from neglect and ignorance and, although they had been deprived of human friendship, you could see they had found solace in each other.

They had a connection that had strengthened as a result of their tragic ordeal.

I am so glad that our supporters felt this connection with these poor donkeys. Without them this type of rescue really wouldn't take place.

Timmy had to be given pain relief before the donkeys could be taken to our vehicle, and moved to a holding base.

The healing and nurturing work of the vets, farriers, nurses and grooms was about to begin.

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