'Neglected Donkey' Turns Out To Be A Garden Ornament

Charles Walford
Ornament makes an ass out of humans

It would seem an obvious case of animal neglect – the creature had been left no food, nor had he been provided shelter from inclement weather.

But when animal welfare officers came to investigate the apparent mistreatment of a donkey, they quickly learned why he had been 'neglected' – the animal in question was a life-sized garden ornament.

The Scottish SPCA said it was not sure not sure whether the caller thought the donkey was real or if was a practical joke.

The 'donkey', owned by Reverend Georgie Baxendale, has starred in several nativity plays and is kept in her garden.

But animal welfare officers went to investigate on Tuesday when the charity received a call to its helpline about its apparent suffering.

Senior inspector Bill Little said: 'The caller stated the donkey was kept in the back garden of a house in Airdrie and tied to a fence without any shelter.

'When I arrived, the owner asked me if I wanted a laugh and when she showed me the ornamental donkey it certainly gave me a chuckle.

'The donkey is made of fibreglass and goes by the name Joshua. He used to be kept at the side of the house and could be seen by people walking by, so it's possible someone called us as a practical joke.

'However, it may be that someone was genuinely concerned as it is a rather lifelike model.'

Needless to say, Joshua's owner found the incident all rather amusing.

She said: 'This is the funniest thing I've ever heard in my life. I used to have two donkeys and bought Joshua as a reminder.

'He's very eye-catching and has appeared in many nativity plays over the years.

'I think this could have been a joke or maybe the person who reported it just doesn't know donkeys very well as real ones don't stand as still as Joshua.'

It is not the first time the Scottish SPCA has experienced a case of mistaken identity.

An officer in Aberdeen was called to a report of owl neglect a couple of years ago, only to discover  the 'distressed' bird was a plastic garden water feature.

In 2012 the charity was called to rescue a snake from a loft in Aberdeen, only to find part of an Adam and Eve Halloween costume.

Mr Little said: 'This job can be very tough as we deal with cruelty cases and severely injured animals on a daily basis, so it's quite nice when something like this makes us smile.

'Although this incident was a false alarm, it's always better to be safe than sorry and we'd encourage anyone with concerns about an animal to call our helpline on 03000 999 999.'

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