Animal welfare chiefs blasted a farmer who neglected a herd of donkeys so badly two had to be put down – after months of pain and suffering.
Albert Sauer, 86, was handed a £300 fine and ten-year ban on owning horses or donkeys after he pled guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to eight donkeys in September 2020.
Inspectors from the Scottish SPCA raided Sauer’s remote property near Campbeltown, Argyll and Bute, in March 2019 found 11 donkeys had been neglected.
Most of them had feet so badly deformed they struggled to walk, while some were underweight and had bald patches on their coats.
Sauer told inspectors the donkeys had not seen a vet for some time, and at Campbeltown Sheriff Court admitted failing to provide adequate foot care for them.
The remaining nine are now in the care of international animal welfare charity, The Donkey Sanctuary.
SSPCA inspector Yvonne Inglis, who led the investigation, said: “This is without a doubt the worst case of equine neglect I’ve come across.
“Eight of the donkeys had severely overgrown feet that only developed because they had gone untreated for a prolonged period of time.
“All it would have taken to save these donkeys from months of pain and suffering was regular foot trimming from a farrier.
“The state of the hooves led to severe lameness and two having to be put to sleep.
“There is no justification for allowing the health of these poor donkeys to deteriorate to this point.
“Thankfully for the other donkeys involved, The Donkey Sanctuary stepped in to offer support and have been providing them with care and treatment in the right environment.
“They are all in a much better, happier place now and we’re proud to work with our animal welfare partners to do the best we can by every animal we rescue.”
Hannah Bryer, Head of Welfare at The Donkey Sanctuary, said: “Cases like these are extremely distressing and highlight the terrible neglect that sadly some donkeys continue to experience in Great Britain today.
“Owning donkeys is a hugely rewarding experience and a wonderful privilege.
“Donkeys require caring and compassionate management to ensure they lead healthy and enriched lives.
“Donkeys are incredibly stoic animals by their nature, often the true extent of their suffering is misunderstood, however there is no doubt in this case that the suffering and pain endured by these donkeys would have been noticeable to anyone.
“Our welfare team continue to work to improve the lives of donkeys and mules in our communities through expert advice, guidance and support.
“It has been a long process to return the nine donkeys back to full health.
“All of them required special diets to build their weight back up and they also required farrier and dental treatment too.
“The donkeys are now getting used to being handled by their dedicated grooms and will continue to receive the highest level of care and attention that they deserve.”