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January 2007

To All Interested and Affected Parties - Welcome!
At the start of this new year, a brief summary of what activities have happened in the Eastern Cape since its beginning in June 2006.  I plan to send a newsletter out once a month and am already working on it so that you will be kept up to date on activities on a regular basis.
Regular visits have taken place in both the Northern and Southern Townships in the area.  Donkey owners have been identified and and contact established.  At first, a defensive "who are you and what exactly do you want?" attitude was very apparent.  This was understandable as in the past, if a donkey was identified as 'not being looked after', it was removed from the 'system', which in turn meant that another donkey had to be found/bought and integrated into the system, perpetuating the problem.  I found that donkeys and drivers were 'hiding'.     None of this deterred Isaac, my trusty self appointed assistant!   He winkled them out, and talked and talked and talked.  This despite being the first owner of a donkey that was taken for veterinary care and that, due to 'choke' caused by an immovable hard piece of orange skin stuck in the throat, was euthanased for humane reasons.  Her name was No Guy Fawkes (born on November 5th 2005).  The rest of the 'problem' donkeys, having been treated, are returned to the owner and this means that now I am asked to 'come and fetch this donkey please' rather than it being 'hidden' from me. 
Over a period of 7 months, this attitude has gradually changed to one of welcome.   I find that I am greeted now with waves and smiles, and when I pull anyone over for a 'Spot Check', with the question, Hi, everything OK? Do you need help, any wounds that need treating?, there is willingness to communicate, much to the consternation of various bystanders and Taxi operators, who believe I am there to 'take the donkey away' and that has led in the past to confrontation and suspicion.  Instead they leave with a puzzled look when the owner tells them 'Its OK, she's helping me', and probably with a CCU Bag for Refuse in their homes or taxis!
I strongly believe that donkeys are an environmental issue, and being a bit of an environmental activist, I have taken to handing out bags issued for International Coastal Clean Up Day in September every year.  I have seen in the space of a week of issuing a yellow refuse bag, an improvement in the donkey's kraal area, and in fact the house and the garden too!!   You don't even have to be a donkey owner to get one, you just have to show that you care about your house to qualify! 
The Unit has had incredible support from Equi Feeds, or their new name, AFresh Brands.  'Spoiled' hard feed, or lucern leavings after the delivery of lucerne has been given to us.  This in turn has been used to feed my 'patients' at the Stables or given to the township owners for their donkeys.   They are absolutely delighted that a) their donkeys are looking and working better, and b) that the donkeys come home for their feed at night, instead of disappearing into the depths of the location and having to be searched for in the morning!
December 2006 passed in a blur and this probably had something to do with the fact that the Unit was actively involved with, amongst other things, 3 'plastic' colics.  One of the colics was a really touch and go affair, but having 'punctured' the plastic in the aesophagus, the shocky symtoms dissappeared, and mare and foal were able to be taken home alive and eating in a relatively short space of time, to the relief of the owner, the vet and myself.   Plastic pollution is a serious problem everywhere, not least in PE.  In the attempt to get at the 'food' in a plastic bag, the plastic is ingested, and causes the problem which is, in the end event, expelled from the donkey in its excreta.  And, found by me when picking up the pooh in the morning!   It is quite horrifying and revolting! But better out than in!   Donkey owners now talk among themselves and see how the problem is caused and how to prevent it - Pickitup!
The incredible support received from the Veterinarians used is gratefully received.  As is the support from a dog food manufacturer nearby who gives me all her carrot tops and cabbage leaves to extend the diet!  Talk about Recycling?!
The biggest problem, aside from the now under control primary health care, is the harnessing.   I am currently working on an economy class harness but for this I need funds.   Various avenues are being explored and the sooner I get the financial assistance, the sooner the donkeys and I will feel happier!  Next mission:  The carts and driver training and hoofcare and and and....
A number of horses have been investigated over the months the most recent being in Joubertina.  A lack of capacity is the problem, but the Co-ops have been contacted and hopefully they will be able to supply the necessary Lucerne in the not too distant future.
In conclusion, although I sometimes get downhearted or angry at the situation that has prevailed for many years, I know I must be doing something right when Isaac hugs himself in my car and says "Thanks God you are here and have come to us".  I say, Thanks to the Racing Association for making this all possible!


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