The picture of a donkey lying on the ground while tied to a cart full of scrap got the support of more than 12.500 people to save him in less than 24 hours.
This image does not come from a developing country. This image was taken in Segorbe (Castellon, Spain) last 10th of March, when El Refugio del Burrito got an anonymous call reporting the terrible physical condition of this animal. The owner (apparently suffering from Diogenes syndrome) usually makes him to pull a cart full of scrap from town to town. Such an effort leaves the animal exhausted, as the picture shows. According to the veterinarian exam, the donkey suffers from extreme malnutrition and physical weakening. The cachexia was so severe that his life was at risk.
As soon as we knew about the case we contacted the local police and we offered to them authorized transport and suitable facilities to provide appropriated care to the donkey. We also offered ourselves as the donkey’s holder. On the 10th of March the donkey collapsed in the streets of Segorbe, the local police made a report and, despite RBD’s efforts to seize the donkey, the animal was returned to his owner.
The owner also had a dog living in similar conditions. Both, donkey and dog, were without microchip, neglected of basic care and their lives were at risk. However the dog was immediately confiscated and taken to an animal protection association, while the donkey was left with the owner.
The unequal treatment is completely unfair. Both animals have been neglected of basic care, both were suffering and both lacked the mandatory microchip. Dogs and donkeys are domestic animals and they are subjected to the same law.
“It is frustrated that, although both animals are protected under the same law, and it is very clear on how to act when the life of an animal is at risk. We still find that authority forces hesitate on how to act. This is a negligence and omission of duty.” says Veronica Sanchez, Country Manager of the Donkey Sanctuary in Spain.
The local police reported the incident to the Chief Inspector officer of the town. Because of the seriousness of the offense, he should have submitted the case to the local court. Instead, he reported it to the Department of Animal Welfare of the local council, which considered it a non-urgent matter.
On March 13th, RBD sent an urgent request to seize the donkey to the local government, the local court, SEPRONA (Spanish flora and fauna police) and the local police, as his integrity was at serious risk. We did not have an answer and authorities took no decisions. In response, RBD started a sign-up campaign in Change.org.
The campaign was very successful and in less than 13 hours, 12.600 people was asking to the town hall and the police to locate where the donkey was and take him immediately to a safe place, so the RDB could take care of him.
At 8.00 am on March 14th, members of SEPRONA in Segorbe called RBD to coordinate the rescue of the donkey. The operation was complicate and took a long time, as the owner refused to hand it over. Despite the difficulties, SEPRONA took the animal in accordance with the law, acting with efficiency and professionalism.
Besides taking care of the donkey, RBD will carry out the prosecution of the case. A veterinary examination has proved that the animal suffers severe malnutrition, multiple grazes caused by using inappropriate harnesses, as well as internal and external serious parasite infections. Despite all this, he will recover. Currently, equine experts are looking after the donkey, who has been named Vida (Life in Spanish).
Like Vida, right now there are many donkeys suffering mistreatment, omission of basic care or abandonment in Spain. We receive an average of 40 calls per month reporting animal cruelty. The costs of taking care of every donkey and legal prosecutions are very high (each one averaging €1400) and we desperately need support to continue helping donkeys and mules in need.
Please donate to enable us to help Vida now and rescue other donkeys in distress like him.