If you are a donkey owner, carer or foster home worried about caring for your animals during the Covid-19 outbreak, we are still here for you. In this article you will find specific guidance on what you can do to help your donkeys and mules if you self-isolate or become unwell.
As Covid-19 continues to spread, the impact of the virus is being felt by many communities around the world. Governments and health authorities are the best sources of advice on measures people should take to reduce transmission and risk of infection in their areas. Here in Spain the central site for most recent advice can be found at Gobierno de España- Medidas ante el Brote de Coronavirus COVID-19
The care and welfare of our donkeys is always our priority and we know that many donkey owners will do all they can to ensure their pets are well cared for. But this is a difficult time and we recognise that many owners may be worried about how to continue to care for their donkeys whilst complying with the Government measures during the “Alarm State”. We understand that this is an unsettling time especially for people with a higher risk of becoming seriously unwell; those needing to self-isolate; those who are unwell and those who are living with, or caring for someone, in these groups.
We too have had to adapt to the rapidly changing situation and have had to make significant changes to the way we work. We are busy developing digital solutions to help us stay connected, but we want to reassure donkey owners that our welfare team is still on hand to offer support and guidance.
We have put together some information to address those frequently asked questions and to provide some general advice to help keep people and donkeys safe. We know that each situation will be different and you may have additional considerations. Please do contact our welfare team on the main number 952 735 077 or via email email@example.com if you want to discuss any aspects of your donkey’s care. These are unprecedented times and our advice during this time may not be our usual approach, but we will continue to do our best to support you and your donkeys.
Further Guidance and FAQs
Prepare and Plan:
Taking sensible precautions, thinking ahead and developing contingency plans will help reduce stress and worry should your circumstances change. Below are some tips to help you think about what you may need to do in different scenarios. All good plans are subject to change, so you should be aware that your plans may need to be adapted as government advice can change rapidly. It is important to keep up to date and we recommend that you continue to check the most recent government advice and news reports for updates in your area.
If you are well and your donkeys are kept at home:
- Continue to interact with your donkeys as normal.
- Apply good hygiene and biosecurity practices including washing hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after touching your animals.
- Wear gloves or wash hands thoroughly before and after handling tools and equipment. This is particularly important where there is shared use e.g. wheelbarrows, field gates.
- Ensure you have enough supplies of bedding and forage. Place orders in advance of these running out to allow for unforeseen delays.
- Check current supplies of essential medication and speak to your veterinary practice to ensure requests for repeat prescriptions are made in good time.
- Ask any visitors to follow good hygiene measures. This includes your vet, farrier, equine dental technician and other professionals.
- Speak to our welfare team if you have any concerns or worries.
- Develop plans to ensure your donkeys are cared for in the event you became ill or need to self-isolate.
- Consider adapting your donkeys’ usual routine now so their management is realistic for those who may need to care for them if you are unable to do so.
If you need to self-isolate or find yourself unable to attend to your donkeys:
- Remember it is important to look after your own health and wellbeing.
- Let us know – our welfare team can provide advice which may help with your planning.
- Carefully consider if you are well enough to care for them yourself.
- If you need to arrange for another person to care for donkeys at your address it is important that this is kept to a minimum and they have access without meeting anyone who is unwell or self-isolating.
- Adapt your donkey’s usual routine to suit their needs and be realistic for those caring for them during this period.
• Think creatively about how you can monitor them remotely – we have seen novel use of CCTV cameras and other monitoring equipment.
• Make sure that contact details of your vet, farrier and other professionals are available to those caring for your donkeys and that they know who to contact in an emergency.
• Consider additional enrichment opportunities which will help keep your donkeys entertained during this period – you may find this resource useful: Environmental Enrichment for Donkeys- The Donkey Sanctuary
If you have been diagnosed with Covid-19:
• Stay at home. You must not leave your house, unless you are being moved to hospital.
• Remember it is important to look after your own health and wellbeing.
• Our welfare team can provide advice which may help with your planning.
Trabajando por los Burros y Mulos en todo el mundo
• Inform your local health protection team that you have pets at home. They will inform the relevant animal health authorities. Given their limited resources it is unlikely they will be able to provide practical help, so you will likely need to arrange for another person to care for donkeys.
• If your donkeys are kept at your address it is vital the person caring for your donkeys has access without meeting anyone who is ill or self-isolating.
• Be realistic about the level of care your donkeys will receive during this period and adapt their usual routine accordingly.
• Think creatively about how you can monitor your donkeys remotely – we have seen novel use of CCTV cameras and other monitoring equipment
Q: What do I do if my donkeys are not kept at home?
A: Travel to provide basic care to your donkeys should be considered ‘essential’ travel, however, please take steps to comply with all other government advice, especially around social distancing and hygiene practices.
Action: It is important to develop contingency plans in case there is a change in your own circumstances. The advice in the guidance above may help you do this. Consider friends or family who may be able to care for your donkeys if you are unable to. Contact other donkey, horse or pony owners in the local area and develop shared contingency plans and share emergency contact details.
Q: How will the restriction on non-essential travel impact on my vet and other professionals?
A: Vets and other professionals such as farriers and equine dentistry technicians will continue to provide essential treatment and attend emergencies. The national veterinary equine association A.V.E.E has published guidance for equine owners and the official message is that they are permitted to continue working to ensure the welfare needs of their patients whilst complying with the latest advice. There may be therefore cancellation of non-essential routine work and strict hygiene measures to protect staff and owners. There may also be delays in the supply of some medications.
Action: Keep a look out for updates from your vet and other professionals for changes to their services and follow any advice they issue in relation to non-urgent cases.
Q: What do I do if my donkey’s medication is running low and I need a repeat prescription?
A: Speak to your vet and order repeat prescriptions in good time. Please bear in mind that vets are making changes to their usual services as they respond to the latest government advice. There may be longer waiting times for deliveries and challenges with the supply of some medications.
Action: Work out how long your donkey’s current supply will last, make a note on your calendar and set an early reminder to make sure you don’t forget to give your vet a call.
Q: What do I do if my donkeys are due their vaccinations?
A: Contact your vet for advice in good time. Vaccinations are included in what would be considered essential treatment, however there may be more delay in attending to non-emergency veterinary care.
Action: If changes to veterinary services result in your donkey's vaccinations lapsing during this period, please make a note to remind yourself to speak to your vet who will provide further advice on how best to address missed vaccines as soon as services are back to normal.
Q: What do I do if it is time for worming my donkey?
A: Worming is also included in what would be considered essential treatment, however as with vaccinations there may be more delay in attending to non-emergency veterinary care.
Action: Please speak to your vet if you require advice about worming.
Q: Will I still be able to buy feed and supplies?
A: Shops and animal feed stores are currently open for trading but wherever possible we recommend that you use a delivery service to limit non-essential travel.
Action: Identify what supplies you need. Remember to order in good time to account for delays in supply. Only order what you need. If you do need to travel to a shop, call ahead to check that they have what you need to avoid unnecessary journeys. Practice good hygiene and social distancing at all times.
Q. Can I still take my donkeys out for a walk?
A: During the “alarm state” we are not currently allowed out to walk our donkeys and mules. However the A.V.E.E’s recommendations highlight the importance for stabled animals to have time outdoors everyday to get exercise and have contact between themselves.
Action: Consider other ways in which you can offer your donkeys opportunities for exercise within your property and mental stimulation. You may find this resource useful: Environmental Enrichment for Donkeys- The Donkey Sanctuary
Q: What do I do if I can no longer keep my donkeys?
A: With the current restrictions preventing all non-essential travel, it is very unlikely you will be able to rehome your donkeys until these measures are lifted. The Donkey Sanctuary, like many other equine charities, receives a large number of calls every month from owners seeking alternative future care solutions for their donkeys. We are currently caring for 271 donkeys in our Malaga and Badajoz sanctuaries. Many of our resident donkeys have complex needs and require lifelong support. Space in sanctuary care is at a premium and reserved for those most in need of specialist care. Our welfare team will be happy to discuss future care solutions and alternative rehoming options with you.
Action: Contact our welfare team for further advice.
Q: What do I do if I can no longer afford to care for my donkeys?
A: We understand that in these unprecedented times many people are facing significant and unexpected changes to their normal lifestyles. Financial uncertainty will no doubt be a source of worry and present challenges for many donkey owners and equine charities alike. Our welfare team will be happy to discuss your current situation and offer support and offer advice or suggestions which may help reduce the costs of caring for your donkeys.
Action: Contact our welfare team for further advice and to discuss future care solutions for your donkeys. The Government are continually updating their advice and support packages which will be available to businesses and families as we navigate through the current crisis. The relevant government site is Gobierno de España- Medidas ante el Brote de Coronavirus COVID-19 . Keep up to date with advice and find out what support is available to you.
We can only continue to rescue and care for donkeys with your help, so please continue to support the work of El Refugio del Burrito, as together, we can make a big difference.