Three neglected donkeys whose hooves had grown so long they were struggling to walk are now recovering thanks to the help of The Donkey Sanctuary.

Gilly, Holly and Snowy’s untreated hooves were 10 centimetres longer than they should have been making it extremely difficult for the donkeys to walk around their home at a farm in Carlisle, Cumbria.

Severely Neglected Donkeys Now Happily Moving Around Pain-Free
Holly & Snowy (L-R) at the time of their rescue (The Donkey Sanctuary)

“Even from a distance, you could see how abnormally long the donkeys’ hooves were, making it difficult for them to walk naturally. It was the worst example of foot neglect I have ever seen,” said Sally Bamforth, Donkey Welfare Adviser from The Donkey Sanctuary. “When walking they lifted their legs up much higher than would be usual to reduce the chance of their hooves catching the ground and clipping into the dirt.”

It was clear that the donkeys had been suffering from neglect for some time for their feet to be so overgrown and that all three would need urgent veterinary treatment.

Gilly, Holly and Snowy were also extremely overweight, as they had been left on a farm to graze on acres of lush pasture after their owners had to move due to a change in circumstances.

Donkeys are prone to obesity and their diets need careful management. Too much lush grass can cause weight gain as well as laminitis, a painful foot condition.

The donkeys were relinquished into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary with the collaboration of their owners and the RSPCA. The animals were transported to a holding base where they received expert veterinary and farriery treatment.

All three have made good progress after months of dedicated care.

Severely Neglected Donkeys Now Happily Moving Around Pain-Free
Gilly, Holly and Snowy with Sally from the Donkey Sanctuary at their current home in Hexham. Picture: Robert Perry 29th June 2021

“It is incredible to see the transformation of the donkeys’ hooves and how Gilly, Snowy and Holly are now moving about freely, without discomfort,” Sally continued. “Sadly situations like this are not uncommon. Lack of appropriate hoof care is still one of the most common welfare issues faced by donkeys in the UK today. Our welfare team works throughout Great Britain to offer free advice and information to donkey owners about the easy steps that can be taken to avoid this type of suffering.”

Gilly, Holly and Snowy started their long road to recovery back in December 2020 when they were rescued following a call from a concerned member of the public. The donkeys will remain in the care of the international animal welfare charity, either in one of its sanctuaries or in a Guardian Home through its rehoming scheme.

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Nisha Kotecha is the Founder of Good News Shared. Having worked and volunteered for charities in the UK for over 10 years, Nisha is on a mission to highlight how amazing charities are.

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