With a broken heart we tell you that we were forced to make the most difficult decision of our work: because of its irreversible clinical condition, which caused him continuous and unbearable pain, yesterday afternoon we put to sleep Vincenzino, one of the donkeys-symbol of distance adoption. His godparents and godmothers received the news this morning. He was 18 years old.
As we had announced in the newsletter sent a few weeks ago, laminitis and arthritis did not give him respite and no drug could no longer provide him with relief from pain, daily and with no possibility of recovery. The last analysis, made last week, showed an even more serious situation than we thought.
We asked the vet, dr. Merlone, who followed him from the moment of his recovery, up to this difficult decision, to explain the situation:
"Vincenzino came to us in November 2015 in very serious conditions: he was strongly dehydrated and in the throes of an advanced organic deterioration, unable to get up and semi-paralyzed on the back train. His hooves have not been cured for a long time, or perhaps they had never been, and had grown out of proportion, causing, especially on the anterior, a severe laminitis, that is a chronic inflammation of the deep tissues, resulting in involvement of the bone structures of the foot , which had undergone a profound reworking and loss of functionality ".
"We succeeded, intervening both pharmacologically and with a series of adequate draws and a specially designed diet, to bring Vincenzino to a situation of balance with the diseases that afflicted him, knowing that the damage caused by years of neglect would not have they could cancel, but only soothe for a time that was not known to us ".
"Vincenzino has led a normal life after all, with a suffering made bearable thanks to anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving therapies, up to seven months ago, when the arthrosis at the hips got worse, becoming gradually intractable to drugs, and the laminitis , especially in the front hooves, it has worsened, leading him to limp and having to constantly change the weight from one limb to another in an attempt to escape the pain ".
"We tried different therapeutic strategies, up to the maximum dosage of drugs, with no results: so much so that in the last days, we stopped giving them, because they only meant unnecessary stress (Vincenzino rejected them with all their strength) and an equally useless overload of chemicals ".
"Since last November, we have also begun to evaluate the quality of his life, using an analysis procedure developed by the Donkey Sanctuary veterinarians, which involves gathering information and processing it according to objective criteria. The outcomes of the radiographic examinations, carried out at regular intervals from the arrival of Vincenzino to the Refuge to date, showed that a worsening of the symptoms corresponded to an aggravation of the lesions at the bone level. From the last radiograph that has been made, the erosion of the bone is clearly eroded and the complete rotation downwards of the third phalanx: all its weight was concentrated on a narrow point of the sole ".
"Without hope of improvement, nor being able to act in any way to counter the chronic pain to which he was subject, Vincenzino was no longer in a state of well-being and we could not guarantee him" freedom from pain ", one of the five fundamental freedoms that we must and want to assure to donkeys. Therefore, after a confrontation with the refuge staff and with the veterinarian colleagues of the Donkey Sanctuary, it was my task and duty to relieve him of suffering ".
To the words of the veterinarian we want to add our considerations, the result of these years that we shared with Vince and, in particular, of the last few months.
One of the major difficulties in managing donkeys (and other animals that are born as prey, as you may have experienced in person if you lived with a domestic rabbit) is their natural evolutionary characteristic to hide the pain, winning move in nature against predators , a strategy difficult to manage in captivity. Only with careful observation and knowledge of the individual animal are small signs in a behavior different from the usual, symptoms of pain and illness; sometimes they emerge when it's too late. The fact that at certain moments Vincenzino seemed to lead a "normal" life did not mean that each of his steps was not accompanied by a pain that we can only imagine.
Until the end Vincenzino stood, with evident pain, but he was on his feet; he ate; he brayed to the female donkey of the nearby enclosure. If he tried to pull the hoof up to clean it, however, he immediately lowered it because the arthritis caused him unbearable pain; if he hastened the pace, or if he pursued his stable companion Tuca, his hind legs were bending unnaturally; he always walked on tiptoe for the pain. The character has always remained that of the warrior, but his body could no longer keep up with him.
There is a difference between surviving and living well, without being accompanied by every single step from suffering. We could have kept it alive, even knowing that there would be no possibility of improvement and that the slabs, so cold, but sincere, gave the only possible scenario a horrible future, up to the breaking of the sole of the hoof by the bone (and the last control, also visual, without the need for X-rays, showed that the sole was already partly detached and that the breakthrough would have been imminent). But it would have been egoism, ours: because, as a Refuge, we try to avoid all the animals that we look after other sufferings, even more when we are dealing with a donkey like him, who has already had a dose of pain over the years. that no one should suffer.
Putting him to sleep was a choice dictated by the heart, by reason and by a medical journey. A decision taken as objectively as possible and in the sole interest of Vincenzino. We could not prevent years of pain, but we did everything to guarantee him a life as peaceful as possible, until we were able to do so, thanks to your choice to adopt it at a distance, and a dignified end.
Do everything possible to guarantee the best possible years, many or few, to each of the donkeys that cross the threshold of the Refuge does not mean to be furious at all costs, but try to protect and accompany them, always, even when it means having to take the last choice that we wanted.
We thank all the people who supported him, even through distance adoption, for the affection shown against Vincenzino and the whole shelter with distance adoption. If we were able to guarantee the serene and carefree moments, like what you see immortalized in the photo we have chosen to accompany our greetings, it was also your merit and we will never be grateful enough for this.