Hard Working and Long Suffering
Two years ago, we welcomed Stormy, a stoic pack donkey with terrible wounds all over his back, into our shelter. After months of treatment, we took him to live a peaceful life with friends on a farm. Since then, we have built a small separate covered shed to treat working donkeys and horses and to shelter them while they heal. Many develop large open sores on their backs from carrying heavy loads of bricks or dirt day in and day out, and also on their bellies and haunches from rudimentary harnesses that cut into their flesh.
Others are brought to us with deep lacerations from being hit by cars or trucks, with fractured legs or infected hooves that have become half-detached, or with wounds from being beaten with sticks. It can take many weeks for these wounds to heal, and
sometimes the animals do not survive. Often the owners are in a hurry to get them back to work, and it is difficult to convince them to wait. You can see the red wound on the back of the brown horse which is being treated in our shed, which was so large and deep that it took three months to fully heal. In addition, one of our vets travels regularly to several different villages on the outskirts of the capital where horses and donkeys work every day.
He treats them for a variety of wounds and ailments, and also explains to the owners why it is important to give them rest, not overburden them, and not to let wounds fester and become infected. Many of the owners have little education and no money, so our treatment is free. Some of them listen carefully to the vet and try to follow his advice; others are skeptical or indifferent.
In many cases, when working horses and donkeys become too old or sick to work, they are abandoned or driven off to fend for themselves. It is a harsh and unforgiving environment for both man and beast, but at least we can help a few. More and more often now, the vet gets phone calls from the villagers asking him to come back and bring more medicine. That alone is a huge sign of progress.