A retrospective study was conducted to assess the health and welfare problems of working donkeys at the Merkato Donkey Sanctuary clinic in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Data on 12,991 working donkeys from 2008 to 2010 were analyzed from the data record sheet kept by the clinic. Results on the age distribution of donkeys showed that the average age of the donkeys was around nine years old. Only 7.37% of the donkeys were with good or ideal body condition (≤2.5), while the majority, 90.56% were with poor body condition (≤2). Multiple health problems were a common feature. Among the common health problems encountered parasitosis, hoof problems, wounds, musculoskeletal disorders, colic, ophthalmic cases and traffic accidents accounted for 55.68, 16.71, 14.9, 3.28, 2.59, 2.37, and 1.71%, respectively. Wounds due to ill fitted harnesses and inappropriate harnessing materials accounted for majority of the wounds observed. Back sore due to the absence of paddings, improper padding, inadequate and inappropriate padding materials was a common feature, and accounted for 62.6% of the overall different wounds. Hoof overgrowth and solar puncture and/or abscess due to sharp objects were the common hoof problems recorded, while hoof overgrowth accounts for 13.56%. Traffic accidents leading to death and injuries were common problems. Apart from the health related welfare problems, the questionnaire survey made also revealed that abuses and negligence by the owners, management constraints like overloading and overworking, beating, and shortage of feed, housing problems, wounds due to harnessing and physical injuries mainly due to traffic accidents were the major welfare problems of urban working donkeys. The retrospective study, the questionnaire survey and observations made provided the significant health and welfare problems of working donkeys that need to be addressed in order to improve their health and working efficiency.
Key words: Retrospective study; working donkey; health and welfare problems.
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