Neglected donkeys with severely overgrown hooves given new chance

A neglected donkey, whose hooves were so overgrown they had twisted, is now on his journey to recovery.

The donkey was discovered by a member of the public who noticed the animal was in need. The Donkey Sanctuary sent Donkey Welfare Adviser Adele Crompton to its paddock near Huddersfield in West Yorkshire.

Adele discovered the nine-year-old donkey, Puzzle, suffering with extremely overgrown hooves.

Puzzle lived with two other donkeys, Quiz and Wizard, who were also suffering from long overgrown hooves. They were living in a muddy paddock, surrounded by broken fencing and barbed wire.

The donkeys were cold and wet due to the lack of adequate shelter, and Adele could see that they all need urgent veterinary and farriery care.

“The first thing I noticed was the state of Puzzle’s feet,” she said. “I could not believe how he was moving around with such overgrown and twisted hooves.

“They had grown so long, especially his hind feet. When he was moving, he was walking on the backs of his heels.

“Quiz and Wizard’s hooves were also in poor condition. Wizard had a big chunk of her hoof missing and the hoof looked deformed.

“Quiz’s front feet were starting to twist inwards, and he appeared to be in discomfort when standing.

“I knew we needed to intervene quickly to get the donkeys the pain relief and treatment they so desperately needed.”

It was clear the donkeys had been suffering for some time and that all three needed urgent veterinary and farrier treatment.

Once Adele had assessed the health and welfare of each donkey from outside their paddock, she enlisted the help of the RSPCA to make contact with their owner.

The Covid-19 pandemic had affected the owner’s circumstances, and other priorities meant they had only been able to provide the donkeys with food and water. It was agreed that it was in the best interest of the animals to relinquish them into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary.

The donkeys were transported to one of the charity’s holding bases, where they were provided with shelter, food and veterinary and farrier care.

“Despite all they had been through, two-year-olds Quiz and Wizard were still so trusting and friendly, whereas Puzzle was a little nervous,” said Adele.

“This case underlines the importance of seeking help as early as possible. This would have prevented the donkeys’ suffering and helped us be there to provide advice, promote the importance of good welfare and look into potential solutions.”

The donkeys’ condition has improved since they were discovered in March, but it will be a long journey until they are fully recovered.

“Puzzle, Quiz and Wizard are doing very well and have become interested in their surroundings and are keen to interact with people,” a spokesman for the holding base added.

“Since their feet have undergone farriery treatment, their characters are really shining through. Quiz has a heart of gold and is very gentle and patient with the grooms.

“All three donkeys certainly seem happier in themselves, and their feet are looking in much better shape.

“However, they still have a long way to go. Puzzle’s and Quiz’s hooves were very deformed, so it will take time for them to fully recover.

“They are still building confidence around humans, but with a lot of love and care, we are hopeful they will start to trust us more and begin to enjoy life to the fullest.”

The three donkeys now have a home for life in the care of The Donkey Sanctuary, either in one of its sanctuaries or a private home through its Rehoming Scheme.