Flossy and Jubilee were discovered in freezing conditions, living in a muddy and wet field near Buxton, Derbyshire in January 2021.
On arrival at the scene, Donkey Welfare Adviser Keira Benham could see that the donkeys’ front hooves were in a horrendous condition, painfully curling upwards and stopping both animals from walking comfortably.
The donkeys’ field was covered in slushy snow and their water troughs had frozen over. They also lacked adequate shelter from the wintry conditions and their dishevelled coats showed signs of rain scald, a bacterial infection of the skin caused by prolonged exposure to the elements.
Keira Benham said: “It was heart breaking to witness these donkeys being so uncomfortable. Watching them struggle to walk was very upsetting.
“The poor condition of their hooves and lack of adequate farriery care meant the donkeys were experiencing pain and discomfort.”
After initial attempts to reach their owner proved unsuccessful, Keira returned to the site with an RSPCA inspector, police officers from Derbyshire Constabulary and an equine vet.
As the weather had warmed slightly, the field Flossy and Jubilee stood in was now clear of snow, but the thaw had revealed a number of previously hidden dangerous hazards, including sharp pieces of wood, loose wire and a large kitchen knife.
Keira said: “I was horrified to see such a potentially dangerous item on the ground where the donkeys were actively grazing.
“Had either donkey stood on or investigated the knife it could have caused serious injury to their hooves, limbs or muzzle and left them open to potential infection such as tetanus.”
After catching Flossy and Jubilee, the donkeys were examined by a vet before being taken into possession of the police. After the vet certified that the pair were suffering, they were taken into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary.
Flossy, 14, and Jubilee, nine, were given pain relief before being transported to The Donkey Sanctuary’s nearby centre, just outside Buxton. Here they were given a warm, dry shelter with access to hardstanding and a bed, as well as food and further veterinary attention.
Donkeys require a solid, waterproof shelter to protect them from the elements and a clean, dry resting area, while a hardstanding and dry bedding supports good hoof health and can help prevent donkeys developing conditions as a result of standing on wet ground.
Once they settled in, the donkeys received treatment painful overgrown hooves were treated. Their teeth were also treated by a qualified equine dental technician. Routine dental care is important to prevent overgrowth and sharp points forming, as well as other issues leading to dental disease.
The Donkey Welfare Adviser eventually made contact with the donkeys’ owner who explained that they could no longer look after the animals and agreed to relinquish ownership of the donkeys.
The pair are now thriving at the sanctuary in Derbyshire. They are both very gentle and inquisitive, despite Jubilee being slightly nervous of new people after being moved to an unknown environment.
Chris Pile, manager of The Donkey Sanctuary Derbyshire said: “Flossy and Jubilee spend their days grazing away with their friends.
“We had to clip their coats, and both have had extensive work to their feet, but they are doing well.”
The Donkey Sanctuary is a global leader for equine welfare, research and veterinary care. The charity operates programmes worldwide for animals working in agriculture, industry and transportation.