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Our recent first aid veterinary clinic in the village of Azmut

Christmas is very nearly upon us. There is terrible worldwide suffering for both animals and people and there are desperate appeals for help everywhere. The region in which we work has a culture that is radically different from what we are used to and is where people’s perception of animals is generally nothing whatsoever like our own.

As Mother Teresa said - ‘I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples’, and that is literally all we can do in the smallest way. So much is out of our control and we are powerless to make the huge changes that are needed. We can only keep faithfully pressing on, doing what little we manage to do for these animals and their owners.

Forewarning: This story is terribly sad and yet tragically, it is not rare.

Against the backdrop of huge political unrest; constant risk and threat of violent incidents including stabbings, shootings, bombings, vehicle rammings, arson and stone throwing, our Palestinian vet, Dr Nour, goes out approximately once a month to hold a basic first aid veterinary clinic in different Palestinian West Bank villages.

On this particular recent trip he was in the village of Azmut, about 5 km northeast of the big city of Nablus. There were about eight donkeys waiting for their treatment, including one male donkey for a castration/gelding operation. As Nour set about his work there was sudden commotion as a very unwell, white mother donkey was brought in with her baby. It was clear to see her muscles were rigid and she had the typical stance of an animal infected with tetanus. Nour has seen a few recent tetanus cases and most needed to be euthanized as it is the kindest thing to do for an animal when they are in the advanced stages. Sometimes owners have been known to refuse to allow euthanasia which of course just prolongs the agony and cause the animal to endure unimaginable suffering and a painful death.

Nour immediately tended to the donkey and was appalled to find, not only her body wounds, but deep injuries inside her mouth which was, he believes, the cause of tetanus. The owner explained that the donkey had stopped eating so they thought they would try to file some of her sharp teeth down. With no proper knowledge of how to do this and no proper, humane tools with which to work, they had set about using an old rusty iron tool, forced her mouth open and ended up ripping the sides of her mouth and slicing her gums. We know… there are no words.

Nour felt that she was in the earlier stages of infection and proceeded to treat and clean her wounds and administer strong antibiotics, analgesics and fluids to fight infection, boost her immunity and hydrate her. It seems that by a miracle, truly a miracle, she has so far managed to survive. Nour did also put nose chain covers over her nose chain but they were removed, although he put yet another one before he left and he will continue to monitor her.

The photos really speak for themselves. It is heartbreaking and of course all we want is to be able to go and take her and her dear little fluffy white one (and that dear ram chewing his food in the photo), to our sanctuary, to be deeply loved and cherished. But that is just not possible.

Thank goodness we were there at that right time for this one poor, dear donkey. But, exactly that, this is just one little donkey we happened to find out about. How many more are out there in a similar position, without any help?

It is crucial that this work expands and progresses across the West Bank. Donkey numbers are decimating there and elsewhere in the world due to the greed and barbarity of the Chinese donkey hide trade, and it is imperative that we be there for those that are still left, and try to do all that we can to reduce their suffering and promote and encourage understanding and compassion amongst owners.







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