Working donkeys welfare clinics

Working donkeys are the lifeblood of rural economies in many developing countries, serving important roles in transportation and labour. Due to lack of access to veterinary care and extremely challenging work environments the donkeys are often subject to major welfare issues.

In India, donkeys are usually used for carrying sand from river bed, transporting woods and other goods along hilly terrains and also helping dhobis to carry washed and unwashed clothes.Most of the time these poor creatures are ill-treated to the maximum by their own owners regardless of the pain they take to bring income to the family. Poor condition of the roads they travel, the heavy burdens they bear or pull, the makeshift harnesses and carriages, combined with inadequate feed and medical attention contribute to a life of misery for many donkeys.

Also, many unconventional techniques are carried out by the owners themselves in an attempt to help the donkeys, but often cause more pain and discomfort than good.Applying hot iron branding to lame and injured legs to facilitate walking, slitting of nostrils to improve breathing while going uphill, tipping of ear to remove infected blood when the donkey is suffering some illness or if he/she had a snake bite, ear cropping for identification and beautification are some of the cruelties inflicted upon donkeys by their owners out of sheer ignorance.

These harmful practices could be prevented with improved access to veterinary care and animal health knowledge, raising awareness of the donkeys welfare and building a good rapport with the owners.This is what the WVS India Working donkey welfare clinics is working on. We often also include veterinary students to attend our clinics to provide them exposure in the welfare of working animals.

The first year of Donkey Clinics in 2013-2014 was a huge success, we undertook four clinics in two different areas across Tamil Nadu. The preliminary findings showed that there is a massive need for welfare initiatives in this important sector of working animals. As a result of the positive impact of these clinics, in 2014-2015 we are continuing to develop this project further to act on the findings and welfare implications noted during the first year, run more clinics and expand the work to include new clinics as well.