MIDLOTHIAN — When Joni Brown read a posting on a horse rescue and sanctuary Web site about a newborn donkey that had been rejected by its mother, her heart went out to the tiny vulnerable creature. Brown is the owner of JoMar Farms, a horse boarding, training and lesson facility in Midlothian.
“When I read that if someone didn’t take her ‘sadly nature will take its course and the baby will likely die,’ I said I have some knowledge (in caring for horses) and I can’t let a baby die in a pasture by itself,” Brown said.
She called the owner and was told he had given the newborn animal to a woman who had a donkey nursing a baby that was about to wean. So Brown went on about her busy Thursday and was shopping with her daughter Marissa in downtown Midlothian when she got a call. The nursing donkey had also rejected the baby and the woman would be unable to keep it.
“It all happened so quickly. The lady said come and get her (the baby) and I picked her up in downtown Midlothian in my car,” Brown said.
“The rest of the night was crazy trying to get everything together.”
When Brown got her Thursday night, the donkey was very lethargic and would only take about half a bottle. The first 24-hours she fed her every two hours.
“The next night she nursed good and started bucking and running around the stall – it was the first good improvement I’d seen,” Brown said.
Saturday morning she took the baby to her vet thinking the animal might need shots and wanting to be sure she was doing everything she needed. The vet told her the donkey looked good but he had one concern and wanted to run a blood test to be sure the donkey had gotten enough colostrum. That’s when matters took a downturn. The level should have been around 800 and the donkey was at zero. Although Brown was feeding the donkey colostrum and formula, the vet said the animal got it too late and the only way to get its count up was through a plasma transfusion at a cost of about $400. If one transfusion didn’t raise the level, the animal would require more transfusions and the donkey might still die.
Brown decided to give it a try and see, but the procedure was not without incident. During the transfusion, the donkey went into anaphylactic shock and aspirated, requiring a shot of epinephrine. Antibiotics were also administered. Afterward the blood count was checked again and the level had increased to more than 800.
“He said the prognosis is good – we will need to watch for diarrhea and joint swelling,” Brown said. “We just need lots of prayers.”
The donkey was born Tuesday night and the owner said he found the baby wet Wednesday morning running with his horses, Brown said.
“Anyone can buy an animal, but the upkeep can put you in debt supporting it for the next 32 years while it lives – they just don’t get it,” Brown said.
Brown said the donkey was so small they wrapped it in a jacket made for a large dog that fits pretty well. She tried to get her own donkey to warm up to the baby with no luck.
Brown and her daughter have been considering names for the new family addition and have so far come up with Pebbles, Star, Diva, Olive Oil and Sweat Pea, but she is hesitant to give the foal a name until she is stronger to avoid becoming too attached. They remain very hopeful the animal will gain its strength and do well; they plan to keep her indefinitely.
“She thinks I’m her mom. When she hears me coming she starts braying and roots around in my pockets looking for the bottle. She follows me like a puppy,” Brown said. “She’s a keeper.”
It is like taking care of a baby with mixing formula, washing bottles and feeding every three to four hours, said Brown.
“Realistically, it will cost more the next few months than it will the rest of her life when she’s on grain,” Brown said.
Anyone who would like to make a tax-deductible donation to help defray the cost of care for the donkey can send a check to Never-E-Nuff Acres Inc., P.O. Box 94, Waxahachie, TX 75168. Note on the check that the donation is for the baby donkey. To make a contribution by credit card or PayPal, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Rebecca at email@example.com or call 469-517-1451.