Rio our baby mammoth donkey age 9 months, (two months after his almost death experience from gelding) this was my introduction to donkeys.  The vet did not tie off his testicles, sadly Rio almost bled to death he was rushed to a trauma hospital with his mom and they saved Rio’s life. The breeder shared this experience with me as most veterinarians do not get the opportunity to study donkeys in medical school they study horses. I am the voice for the donkey and the humans who love the beloved and humble donkey.

I have had way too many calls and e-mails from donkey mom’s and dads who have buried their donkey after sedation or a gelding. My first donkey death is burned into my heart and soul. Select GALOPIN the dancing donkey of France.  Galopin died while I was coaching his humans Martine and Geoff of France to tame and train him. This issue must change and change quickly. The vet clearly did not have enough experience or education to geld Galopin. Galopin died from the drugs he never woke up after being sedated. 

Questions To Ask Your Vet Before Sedation:

  1. How many donkeys have you gelded or sedated?
  2. Will you weigh my donkey before giving the drugs?
  3. Will you tie my donkeys testicles off to prevent bleeding to death?
  4. Do you carry the reversal drug in case my donkey has an adverse reaction to the drugs?
  5. Will you stay on my farm until my donkey is up and walking normal after sedation?
  6. I realize veterinarian schools are not educating extensively for donkeys. Have you networked with vets who have been working with donkeys to ensure you are prepared to sedate and geld my donkey?

Donkeys live a grim life if not gelded, do not postpone gelding. Very few donkeys are breeder donkeys. Do your homework. Sadly the donkey is not getting the medical education needed from veterinarian schools. Each donkey must be weighed before sedating.

Donkeys are not horses with long ears. Donkeys digest drugs differently than horses. Donkeys should never be given any drug without an experienced donkey vet prescribing and on-sight for the drugs. This is a warning. I am a worldwide donkey trainer, I train the owner or caretaker to train the donkey. Experienced donkey vets understand how important education and experience is when working with donkeys.

Sadly when I received the call from Pamela Frost I was not surprised. Why? I have had way too many of these calls. Donkeys are sadly not given the medical expertise and experience as the horse.  Donkeys digest drugs different from a horse. Some donkeys like humans can and do die from an allergic reaction to the drug. I am not a vet. I am sharing this information in hopes that you will share this and we can get the veterinarian schools to start teaching and educating for the donkey.

Horses bring in big bucks, i.e., racing, breeding, dressage. The people who make the money from these horses add more money into the studies and grants for horses health. Donkeys do not bring big dollars into the business world. This must change. Sadly, donkeys are not given the research and funding needed to train the vets in the U.S.A.  Our vet bill is the same price as for the horse.

Baby Donkey Gus Dies From Sedation, age seven months. A True Story. Pamela Frost, IA

October 3, 2018 I had the local veterinarian come to my farm to geld my 7 month old miniature donkey, Gus. I have used this clinic in the past, but the Veterinarian I used has now retired.  I asked Dr. Paul when he arrived if he had gelded donkeys before and he said yes, quite a few. Dr. Paul proceeded to guess Gus’s weight @ 175-200# which I disagreed with, so instead of taping him Dr. Paul proceeded to lift Gus in his arms to guess his weight. He then estimated Gus at 100#. Dr. Paul then proceeded to administer Xylazine. After waiting 5-10 minutes, Dr. Paul then administered another dose of Xylazine because he felt Gus wasn’t drowsy enough. He then also administered Ketamine. Dr. Paul then proceeded to geld Gus. After the procedure, he gave Gus a tetanus and an antibiotic shot.

While Gus was lying down, he seemed to have some slight trouble breathe, with stridor, wheezing sounds. His tongue was hanging out the side of his mouth. (Gus’s tongue never did return inside his mouth from that moment on).  Gus was difficult to stimulate to wakeful state; we did finally get him on his feet by pretty much holding him up.  I then brought his mama into the fenced yard where we had performed the procedure.  Dr. Paul stayed at our place for  several minutes longer and he felt Gus was going to “be fine”, even though he wasn’t steady at all on his feet, tongue still hanging out of mouth, stridor sounds occasionally being omitted from Gus. I voiced my concerns, but the Vet assured me he would be fine. 

Dr. Paul left; It wasn’t 15-20 minutes later, Gus was back on the ground, could not breathe, making stridor, wheezing sounds. I called the vet office told the receptionist Jessica that I needed Dr. Paul back. She said she’d call him.  A few minutes later I called again asked her if she had gotten hold of him, she said she did and he would be back.  My 3rd phone call I was frantic and told her I needed him now as my donkey was loosing his airway and was dying.  At this point the receptionist was snotty with me said she would let Dr. Paul know.  Dr. Paul returned to my home an hour after I first called him to come back.  When he arrived Gus was down, tongue still out, he was not breathing appropriately and the sounds were of him struggling to breathe, plus it appeared he was having seizures as his entire body would go rigid. Dr. Paul administered epinephrine and immediately my donkey was dead.

Dr. Paul tried to call me a couple times in the following days.  When I did get the chance to talk to him, he admitted to me that he DID over medicate my donkey. He said he did a lot of research AFTERWARDS on donkeys and medication, etc. He also admitted he has not worked with many donkeys.  When I asked if there were reversal drugs for these medications he gave Gus, Dr. Paul told me that there were drugs available but they were very expensive so he doesn’t carry them.

A couple days after I talked to Dr. Paul, I called the clinic and asked for Gus records to be sent to me. I was told by Jessica in a quite cheerful voice that they were not going to charge me (like she felt this should make me happy ??)   and I proceeded to tell her again I wanted the records. I was then informed that they don’t keep records.  How can they not keep records when they use controlled substances?  Or do they just not keep records on animals they accidentally kill? She then said she would have Dr. Paul write something up and send to me, which I did receive on scratch paper documentation of what he administered to my donkey. It definitely was not an official record of Gus’s care.

I will tell you this incident broke my heart; my donkey was not a high dollar donkey but he was precious to me. I had bad feelings that morning, like I should cancel this appointment, but I didn’t. When my little guy had his first injection of the sedation, he hid behind me, trusting me.  I was his Human.  Then as this all played out I held his little head on my lap as he struggled to breathe and as he took his last breathe.  His mama stood by me, watching the entire scenario play out. At one point she walked forward and touched his little nose with hers. Simply heart breaking.

I don’t want this to happen to anyone else in the future. This veterinarian I trusted, I took his word on what he told me, and look where it got my baby Gus. When I talked with some Veterinary Residents at IA State University, they said donkeys are lumped together with equine in their education and it is very minimal.  Ross University Vet Students are required to successfully anesthetize and do surgery on donkeys prior to graduation. Why are other Universities not requiring this?

I have written to the Iowa Board of Veterinary Licensing, requesting they consider educating their students on Donkey cares; not lump them together with other equine.  I encourage others to please check out your veterinarian. Don’t just take their word for their experience and education, like I did. I know this veterinarian did not do this intentionally, but he wasn’t educated enough. His words telling me over and over that he is sorry were empty words at that point.

I included a picture of Gus when he was a couple months old, a picture of my niece kissing Gus, and a picture of my grandson loving on Gus. I am not the only one missing that little donkey.

GOD bless you and your family two and four-legged!

Melody Johnson, Trainer/Owner

Donkey Whisperer Farm ®

Five Questions You Must Ask Your Vet Before Sedation, Gelding Or Teeth – Save A Donkeys Life

4 thoughts on “Five Questions You Must Ask Your Vet Before Sedation, Gelding Or Teeth – Save A Donkeys Life

  1. Thank you so much for posting this. I would never have known. I did have my mini donkey gelded several years ago and all went well,but I have no idea if my vet had the proper training to do this with a donkey or not. I have been wanting to have my 23 year old Mammoth Jenny`s teeth checked (no obvious problems-just a check up) but I was having concerns about anethesia if it was necessary. Now I know that I need to ask lots of questions first. I am so sorry about your baby Gus 🙁

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