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Overgrown hooves, donkey pets not cared for

Becoming popular pets, but an alarming trend grows
Posted at 12:48 PM, Sep 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-16 14:03:50-04

An animal lover says donkeys are becoming popular pets, but not everyone knows how to properly care for them.

Meet Jenny, Jill, Dexter and Jack – their hooves are curled, overgrown and deformed.

 These four legged family members are the newest residents at Lusco Farms. It's a shelter for rescued donkeys that have been neglected and mistreated.

The donkeys were brought to the farm after their former owner couldn’t care for them anymore.

When I went to pick them up, she asked, ‘How did their hooves got this way?’ says Scott Shehan, co-owner of the farm with his wife.

“I had to explain because they weren't trimmed on a regular basis,” he says.

The donkeys are all under the age of five.

With their growing popularity as pets, Shehan says he's seeing more cases like this.

Just last year, he says they had five mules come on their farm, calling them the Fab Five.

The problem with the overgrown hooves only multiply – literally – when mother nature gets in the mixed.

Jack, who fathered Dexter – Jenny’s foal, has impregnated both female donkeys.

On Friday, a farrier came out to the farm to trim the hooves while a veterinarian sedated the animals.

“A normal donkey might get trimmed three to four  times a year,” he says. “These donkeys might get trimmed six to eight times this year because what we're trying to do is get their confirmation fixed.”

Despite their size, he says caring costs is low: it normally cost $50 to buy one. From there, the trimmings are usually $30 each time.

Not including food, it probably costs $200 a year to care for them, Shehan says.

Contrary to one might think, the untrimmed hooves haven’t left the donkeys in pain. Discomfort, yes. But the pain won’t come until after the trim.

As Shehan explains, the donkey’s hooves have grown sideways – inhibiting their ability to walk flat-footed. Once the regular trimmings begin, they’ll have to re-learn how to walk properly and use their muscles differently.

It hurts Shehan to see the animals like this, but he's using it as a lesson and hopes the public will listen up.

“You can't let this happen,” he says. “This isn't normal and this shouldn't be the way they live.”