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Rescue Travels Hundreds of Miles for Expert Care
When Benny, a nine-year-old donkey, arrived at a farm animal sanctuary, he quickly became one of the most well-loved animals onsite. But soon after arriving, concerns started growing about his health.
April 11, 2018

For Daniella Tessier, founder of Peace Ridge Sanctuary in Maine, finding a veterinary service provider that takes farm animal care as seriously as the Hospital for Large Animals at Cummings Veterinary Medical Center does, has been a challenge. One of the largest farm animal and equine sanctuaries in the country, Peace Ridge is currently home to 260 animals previously subject to cruelty and neglect—many of which are often in need of TLC and veterinary care.


When Benny, a nine-year-old donkey, arrived at Peace Ridge he quickly became one of the most well-loved animals onsite. But soon after arriving at the sanctuary, Daniell­­a grew concerned about his health. Diagnostic tests completed by a local equine veterinarian revealed that Benny’s hooves required special surgical care, which was unavailable in Maine. Without this surgery, Benny’s prognosis was poor.


Though Peace Ridge is hundreds of miles from the Hospital for Large Animals in North Grafton, MA, Daniella grew up in the area and was familiar with the important work Cummings Veterinary Medical Center performs.


Benny gets a post-surgery ultrasound.

Benny receives a post-surgery ultrasound.

With the troubling state of Benny’s hooves, Daniella decided to bring him to the Hospital for Large Animals. Radiographs revealed he had an infection in his hoof that involved the coffin bone. Treatment would require surgery to create an opening in the bottom of his hoof to debride the bone, followed by months of rehabilitation. Because of Benny’s young age, Dr. Thomas Jenei of the General Diagnostic and Surgery Service felt there was a good chance for success. Daniella had to make some tough decisions on behalf of Peace Ridge, “But we were confident that Benny would have the best chance at a full recovery under Dr. Jenei’s care,” she said.


After the operation, Benny spent two weeks at the Hospital for Large Animals, where he benefited from the ongoing attention and around-the-clock care from the faculty, residents, technicians, and students. In addition, Dr. Jenei worked with farrier, Eric John, to have Benny’s hoof fitted with a special shoe to provide support and protection while he was healing.


“It was a team effort,” said Dr. Jenei. “Without the help of the residents, technicians, the shoeing expertise of Mr. Eric John, and Daniella’s dedication to Benny, we would not have been able to resolve the infection.”


Benny specializes in stealing the hearts of everyone he meets.

Benny specializes in stealing the hearts of everyone he meets.

With the assistance of Dr. Jenei’s detailed at-home care plan, it has been several months since the surgery and Benny’s hoof is growing back and the infection has been eliminated. Every six weeks Daniella and Benny make the trip to North Grafton, where Benny is re-evaluated to ensure he is infection-free and receives proper hoof maintenance. “He hops right off the trailer and into his stall,” said Daniella, “as if he’s going to visit the friends who have come to love Benny, just like their own.”