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|In July I visited The Gambia with a team from
BBC Scotland and the Dean of Glasgow Veterinary School. Most of the suffering caused to
the working animals in The Gambia is caused by ignorance rather then cruelty, but we were
appalled to find two cases of cruelty at the very first market we took our guests to. The
first was a little female donkey who had been so badly beaten that her rump resembled raw
steak. Her shoulders had severe wounds caused by an ill fitting harness. She had obviously
kept trying to stop because her shoulders were so painful from being badly beaten.
She was the picture of misery, very depressed and obviously in a
great deal of pain. When we told the owner that she would have to be hospitalised for two
weeks, he then let it be known that she had a very small foal.
I shall never forget her face
when her little foal was returned to her, her spirits lifted immediately. The little
donkey haunted us as we returned to the centre along the river and throughout the evening
my thoughts kept returning to her and another donkey who had been brought in that day. The
second donkey had also been beaten and was wounded, but she had been brought to the market
clinic because her little foal was struggling to survive Strangles.
I desperately wanted to help those donkeys,
but if we bought them, would we just be causing another problem for another donkey?
|We had called the police in to witness the
state of the donkey and the owner had received an official warning together with the
promise of prosecution if anything like this was found on his animals again. I hadn't
realised that Stella, my sister, was going through the same agonies. We decided the next
day to purchase the two donkeys and their offspring, but it would have to be done by a
dealer from outside the area on our behalf.
donkey was purchased and came home two days later. She was named Rhona after the BBC
presenter, and her son was named Chas after the cameraman. The Strangles foal survived,
but obviously could not join us with her mother until risk of spreading the infection had
|They are all making an excellent recovery and
are destined to become our demonstration donkeys. Stella and I both felt that we had it in
our power to turn the lives of those little donkeys around, and though we both know that
you cannot do that to every donkey you meet, sometimes, for the sake of our sanity, we
have to help certain individuals.
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