Stray Donkey Runs 15 Miles on Highway Before Being Saved

Rescued by: The Sanctuary at Red Bell Run in Columbus, NC

In the cool evening of early November 2022, Red Bell Run’s vigilant vet services administrator, Dee Joy, spotted a stray jack donkey sprinting frantically down the local highway. After running close to 15 miles, this shaking and exhausted little donkey (now named Highway Joe) was safely caught by Dee and taken to Tryon Equine Hospital for immediate medical attention. Diagnosed with “tying-up”, a muscle metabolism condition, Joe received IV fluids, Niacin, B12, and Ceftioflor to alleviate his pain and stiffness. Joe was thin and his white blood cell count was extremely high, a sign of infection. He also had several superficial wounds. Despite these challenges, the Red Bell Run team was able to get him all of the medical attention he needed and brought him to their sanctuary to start his road to recovery.

However, Joe's journey to recovery had just begun. This gentle soul found himself in a whole new world, surrounded by well-meaning strangers, feeling displaced and vulnerable. To complicate matters, being an intact jack (stallion), he had to be isolated until he could gain enough weight for the crucial gelding procedure. Battling ulcers and requiring special care, Joe kept the Red Bell Run’s dedicated staff on their toes. They knew he needed a donkey companion, as they always advise, but finding the perfect match for sensitive Joe proved to be quite the challenge!

Being delicate, Joe didn't easily fit in with other donkeys. He had a persnickety appetite, needed separate feedings, and seemed like a bit of a "hothouse flower" among the herd.

The team at Red Bell Run tried various spots in the Sanctuary to find the right match for Joe, including two little geldings they hoped would become his buddies. However, he stood off to the side, not thriving as they had hoped. In a last-ditch effort, they decided to introduce him to the main donkey herd at their Longears Lodge, but placed him in separate housing with a smaller group of jennies.

And that's when the magic happened! In the company of Millie, Jingo, and Lucky, Joe's spirits soared. He embraced being the only "guy" in an all-female posse like he was born for it. Later, Ella Grace and her mom Gracie joined Joe's little herd, and they all quickly became fast friends! It took some maneuvering and creative thinking, but seeing Joe happy in the company of his newfound friends made it all worth it. The team is thrilled that Highway Joe's health issues are now behind him. This handsome donkey has found his happy place in the caring company of his friends and the Red Bell Run’s dedicated staff!

The Smurfy Ever After Rescue Project is helping this incredible organization's team to provide rescue & healing:

Their mission is to rescue and provide lifelong care for equines from various 501(c)3 organizations, animal control seizures, and cases of compassion, ensuring that no animal has to face the end alone. Each resident is treated as an individual, receiving personalized care overseen by their knowledgeable staff, farriers, and veterinarians.

Their approach includes the Paddock Paradise® system, offering a natural habitat for domestic horses. From appropriate feed supplementation and bodywork to massage, acupuncture, and traditional veterinary medicine, they prioritize the well-being of each animal.

To learn more about The Sanctuary at Red Bell Run, please visit HERE.