THE DONKEY Sanctuary received a call to say that Heidi, a frail elderly donkey, with limited eyesight had gone missing in Basildon in Essex and was likely to be in danger.
Shelagh Steel and Sue Field, two of the charities welfare officers for the East of England went hunting for Heidi each taking a section of ground to search.
When they got back to the stables they were surprised to find a very worried owner by the gate having discharged herself from hospital on hearing the news that one of her much loved donkeys had gone missing.
Shelagh explains: “The owner had reluctantly handed over Heidi and her three friends Poppy, Hazel and Harry, to us as she could no longer look after them because of her own ill-health. We always like to give owners time to come to terms with their decision, so we arranged to go back the following week to go through the formalities and arrange for all the donkeys to be checked to make sure they were fit to travel down to Devon.
“It was at 8pm on Friday evening when the news everyone had waited for came when a passer-by spotted Heidi in a ditch alongside a road in the Corringham area and called the emergency services.
“As soon as we heard the news, we made our way to where Heidi had been spotted and found the road already closed by the police while three fire crews worked to rescue Heidi from the ditch.
“By this time, Heidi was very cold and in shock. In such a condition, donkeys are susceptible to a life threatening condition called Hyperlipaemia so the priority was to make her safe and warm.
“Heidi was wrapped in a foil blanket to try and conserve what body heat she had while she was lifted out of the ditch and transferred onto an inflatable bed that the fire crews had waiting for her.
“While the rescue teams were working to get Heidi out of the ditch, we arranged transport to take Heidi to Taylor & Lees veterinary hospital at Catley Cross.
“After two hours of hard work the fire crews got Heidi out of the ditch, gently carried here to the waiting horse box and she was on her way to hospital for expert medical care. We went ahead to Taylor & Lees and met Carolyn (vet) and Hayley (nurse) ready and waiting with 10 hot water bottles to put around Heidi when she arrived.
“Both Carolyn and Hayley stayed with Heidi all night massaging her with towels to help warm her while three heat lamps burned through the night adding extra warmth.
“I found it a touching moment when I looked over at Heidi and saw that Carolyn and Hayley had also put a couple of pairs of socks on Heidi’s feet to keep them warm.
“On Saturday morning I called the vets for news on Heidi and was relieved to hear that Heidi was holding her own but not out of the woods yet. She had had a little to eat during the night but there was still a long way to go.
“Throughout the day the staff at the veterinary centre had been with Heidi. A lovely lady called Bridget, who’s own donkey was receiving medical care, spent the afternoon sitting with Heidi coaxing her to eat little and often and signs were looking good.
“But how quickly things can change. Carolyn called me in the early hours of Sunday morning to say we had lost Heidi to pneumonia.
“Heidi touched the hearts of many, and everyone involved in her rescue are devastated and did everything possible to save her. Heidi was not alone when she died and was comforted to the very end.”
This operation couldn’t have happened without the help of many people and The Donkey Sanctuary would like to thank all those who searched for Heidi throughout the day.
· All the emergency services involved for acting so quickly in response to a call for help.
· Special thanks to the Corringham fire station crew who worked tirelessly and with such passion to pull Heidi out of the ditch.
· The vet at the scene was Louise Smith from House & Jackson who was just great.
· Sue who came to our rescue by providing a horse box at the drop of a hat.
A JustGiving Page has been set up in Memory of Heidi if you would like to make a donation visit www.justgiving.com/donkeysanctuary-heidi
To find out more about the work of The Donkey Sanctuary, telephone 01395 578222 or visit www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk