Few things make us as happy as stories about good-hearted people who helped an animal in need. We’ve seen dozens of times before how animal lovers will stop at nothing to help an animal in need, reminding us that there are plenty of people who see animals as valuable and important members of our society.
So when we learned about Dr. Laureen Bartfield and what she did to help a mother donkey and her baby, we were immediately left in awe. She operates a non-profit organization, SNAP, where she generously provides low-cost spay and neuter to low-income families in North Carolina. SNAP also operates a mobile clinic where Dr. Bartfield selflessly goes to rural shelters in North Carolina, providing veterinary care, helping animals that otherwise would not get much needed medical attention. Since forming, SNAP has helped over 126,000 pets.
Providing low-cost spay and neuter surgeries is a remarkable feat in and of itself, but when the vet comes home after a long day, she isn’t done helping animals. She has saved all kinds of animals throughout the years, including pigs, dogs, cats, peacocks, donkeys, and goats. Dr. Bartfrield saves all of the animals by herself, providing veterinary care out of her pocket and hosting small fundraisers to help cover some of the expensive medical costs.
A Touching Bond: Blossom and Huckleberry
Some of the animals stay with Dr. Bartfield for the entirety of their lives, where others are adopted out when a loving family is secured. Seeing dozens of animals, she was particularly touched when she recently saved a mother donkey and her baby, Blossom, and Huckleberry, from being shipped to slaughter. It’s unknown how the small family found themselves about to be shipped to slaughter or who dumped them, but the duo was sent to ship to Mexico quickly because of health concerns. The donkey meat trade is little known but is a widespread and lucrative business with operations worldwide.
The place where she picked up Blossom and Huckleberry was a heartbreaking scene.
“I watched as 46 horses and mules were loaded onto an 18 wheeler, headed for Arkansas and then Mexico. Some will be sold at auctions along the way and others will be bought and be put on that truck. There was no rhyme or reason for what order they were loaded on the truck and there was some kicking and banging when they were getting crammed in there,” Dr. Bartfield recalled via email to One Green Planet, “The men loading them had ropes and would smack them on the rump and yell, until they ran up the narrow wooden ramp that resembled a cattle chute. I had to pull over shortly after leaving with Blossom and Huckleberry, to dry my tears so that I could drive on.”
Miraculously, she rescued Blossom and Huckleberry just in the nick of time and got the scared donkeys to her farm immediately. When Dr. Bartfield rescued Blossom and Huckleberry from their grisly fate, they were no doubt sick, hungry and very scared. Blossom was doing everything possible to protect Huckleberry, understandably untrusting of humans still.
Blossom struggled to stay alive, with the vet and her team doing everything possible to save her but sadly, she passed away due to an infection. Heartbreakingly, Dr. Bartfield promised Blossom that if she would make it, she would live on the family farm forever and would never have to worry about her baby or where her next meal would come from. As sometimes happens with animal rescue stories, the animals sometimes don’t make it. But there is a silver living: Blossom passed away with Huckleberry right by her side, knowing her baby would be well taken care of.
She took Blossom body to the state lab for a necropsy to figure out more about what she is suffering from and to ensure Huckleberry’s safety. Happily, Huckleberry is not sick and Dr. Bartfield is hopeful he will remain healthy. Now, she is doing all she can for Huckleberry and will provide him with loving, forever home.
Dr. Bartfield says that although Huckleberry seems to have accepted the fact that his mom is no longer here, he still stands around with a vacant look in his eyes. She has put Huckleberry is a paddock adjacent to Marigold, another rescued donkey and has hopes that they will get along. Huckleberry and his friends at the vet’s farm act as ambassadors to the horrors animals worldwide face at the hands of humans.
What You Can Do
We know sweet Huckleberry and his enduring story will change many hearts throughout the years. Donkeys often don’t have positive representation and are thought of as simple or stupid, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Donkeys are feeling and intelligent creatures. In fact, donkeys form wonderful friendships and even mourn their friends and family. They have the extraordinary willpower to recover from the worst experiences.
Animals are a lot more like humans than many realize, with each animal having its own unique personality and quirks. They’re also capable of exhibiting emotion; mother cows have been known to make crying noises when their calf is taken away, and animals can become withdrawn if they’re placed in isolation without a companion. Farm animals are also intelligent creatures. In fact, some farm animals are smarter than dogs and can even learn basic commands — something that often surprises people.
Ready to make a difference? Check out these other One Green Planet articles to learn more about volunteering at a farm sanctuary:
- 10 Farm Sanctuaries in the U.S. that Are Great for Volunteering
- 10 Awesome Farm Sanctuaries You May Never Have Heard of
- Three Awesome Farm Sanctuary Programs that Teach Kids Compassion For All Animals
All image source: Blind Spot Animal Sanctuary