Donkey abandoned in Mournes recovering in sanctuary
A 10-year-old donkey who could barely walk after being found in the Mourne Mountains, is recovering at a sanctuary.
Experts there believe his feet had not been trimmed for two years.
As a result his feet had grown almost too long for him to walk and he was in extreme pain when he was rescued earlier this month.
However, after a visit from a farrier, the donkey, which has been named Johnny, is now much more comfortable.
He is now making a steady recovery at the Donkey Sanctuary in County Tyrone.
The donkey was first reported to police and the animal charity on 19 August after a photographer took pictures of him at a derelict cottage in the Mourne Mountains.
It was so long since his feet were properly trimmed that he was left with split and curled hooves, twisted legs and in constant pain.
There is no information about the donkey's background so he was named after one of the police officers involved in his rescue.
Johnny's condition shocked those working at the Donkey Sanctuary.
Allen Andrews, the Donkey Sanctuary's regional welfare officer said: "When I arrived I could instantly see that this donkey must be in great pain.
"His hooves were among the longest I have ever seen, and may not have been attended to by a farrier for at least two years.
"All four of his hooves were curled and cracked, causing the stallion to walk awkwardly and his legs to become twisted.
"I cannot imagine how painful this must be for him, and yet he still had a lovely temperament and did not seem to be scared of people."
But Johnny is now getting the very best of treatment to aid his recovery.
"As no owner could be found, the decision was made with the local police to take the donkey to the Donkey Sanctuary's holding base in County Tyrone," explained Mr Andrews.
"We have no information about the donkey's background, or how long he may have been abandoned on the Mourne mountainside, but it is clear that he needs a sanctuary like us to help him recover from such neglect.
"Johnny's feet have been x-rayed by the vet to check for internal damage and his hooves have been trimmed back to help him walk normally again.
"He is a lovely donkey and we are pleased to see that he is already making a good recovery."
A video of Johnny can be seen on the Donkey Sanctuary's website here.
There is a steady stream of donkeys coming into this sanctuary - more than 100 at Christmas.
Four more arrived from the Antrim area on Wednesday where they had been handed back by people who no longer wanted them.
They cost about £600 a year to keep.
The charity will try to re-home Johnny in Northern Ireland, and if not they will send him to England where they care for 2,500 such animals on their farm there.
The Donkey Sanctuary is a charity entirely funded by donations and takes in an average of eight donkeys each week throughout the UK and Ireland.