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What to do if you see a donkey in distress
Many holiday makers and visitors, who are travelling to European countries, contact Il Rifugio degli Asinelli ONLUS regarding donkeys that they have seen which may be in difficulty, injured or appear to be in poor condition. Although Il Rifugio degli Asinelli ONLUS has no legal jurisdiction, we are increasingly more able to investigate and assist the donkey by providing advice and medical help if the owner is open to our offer. Il Rifugio degli Asinelli ONLUS often works in conjunction with other animal welfare organisations, enabling us to provide help in other countries. Thanks to people who are concerned for the welfare of donkeys forwarding information, we have been able to improve the lives of many of these animals.
The most common reports we receive are lack of water and feed, overgrown hooves and wounds caused by incorrect tethering or hobbling (see attached). Below are brief explanations to help you identify any situations you feel may need to be reported to us. A checklist is included to enable you to provide us with important information we require in order to do investigations. If you are able to take a digital photograph of the donkey and any landmarks, this would be of great help. The checklist can be completed online or posted to us.
Donkeys originate from Africa and Asia and are naturally very adaptable animals who can survive in situations where horses cannot. Their digestive system is designed to obtain sufficient dietary requirements from what would seem to be small amounts of feed, often of very low nutritional value. Donkeys require a high fibre diet as a high sugar and starch diet can cause health problems,
particularly if the donkey is not working.
In many instances where it appears the donkey is not receiving any water, it will often be given to the donkey very early in the morning and/or late at night. In extremely hot climates the daytime temperatures will evaporate a lot of water left out in a bucket. It will also get very dirty and attract insects during the daylight hours. However, a lack of water can cause many health problems and lead to death.
It is always preferable for a donkey to have access to shade or shelter, particularly from the heat and heavy rain. For many owners in European countries this is not always possible, often due to lack of finance, materials or because the donkey is moved around to different areas. Again, as they originate from Africa and Asia, they can cope with the heat much better than humans, although if they are not receiving water over a period of days, it will cause severe health problems.
In many areas it is often virtually impossible for the donkey owner to provide fencing around the area
in which the donkey lives. In these situations, although far from ideal, a neck tether, leg hobbles, or a combination of both is used to ensure the donkey does not stray. Unsuitable materials, such as wire, and incorrect fitting cause the majority of injuries which can often be very serious.
Finding a farrier to regularly trim donkeys’ feet and attend to any problems can be extremely difficult
as well as being an expense that many owners can ill afford. If the donkey is not working and walking over rough surfaces, his hooves will not wear and gradually get longer. Overlong hooves can cause a great deal of discomfort and in some cases long term damage to the bones inside the hoof may occur.
Wounds are often a result of a direct injury, ill fitting tack, harness or hobbles or being attacked by
other animals. Some wounds or injuries may need veterinary attention. Others may simply need to
be cleaned. If a wound or injury affects the donkey’s ability to work, it will ultimately affect the
livelihood of the owner as well as the welfare of the donkey. If treatment is administered quickly and
flies are kept away from the wound, the risk of infection is minimised.
- General Health
Donkeys do have a tendency to appear gloomy at times, particularly if they are dozing. However, unlike most horses, if they are unwell they do not show signs until they are often very ill. If you are concerned about the overall look of a donkey, it is a good idea to visit him/her late into the evening when it is cooler and there are no flies about.
If you are concerned that the donkey is in pain, unwell or generally neglected please complete the attached form and forward to the Welfare Co-ordinator at Il Rifugio degli Asinelli ONLUS at the address at the bottom of this page: we may be able to investigate the situation and provide assistance.
- If you wish to proceed independently of us, you can report a written complaint by entering information, including address, in a letter to explain the points listed above. Enter the names of any witnesses. The complaint must be lodged at any police authority or to Segreteria Generale del Procuratore della Repubblica at the Court of jurisdiction in the place where the abuse is taking place. The complaint must be signed in the presence of a public official.
- IN CASE OF EMERGENCY:
- In some regions, a veterinarian is always available through the emergency number 118. You will be asked to leave your details and they will contact you promptly.
- Any judicial authority must act in the immediacy of the fact.
- If you are not able to contact competent authorities, please call us and we will try to resolve the situation.
|European donkeys in distress checklist (PDF)||419.04 KB|