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November 6 th


Poco makes the newspaper!

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Poco makes the newspaper!
“Animal sanctuary rescues crippled burro in Havasu

20 inches of a deformed hoof was removed”

By BRANDON MESSICK Today’s News-Herald
Every time Terry Watt saw the lone burro, she snapped a picture.

He was far away the first time, alone in the Havasu wildlife refuge. Watt has friends who are involved in issues surrounding the region’s wild, roaming burros and horses, and she knew that burros rarely travel outside of a herd.

The burro was one of hundreds of the region’s wild donkeys, direct descendants of the beasts of burden that were used to build the Old West. But this beast of burden was carrying one burden that was too heavy to bear.
Its right-rear hoof appeared to have overgrown, causing the creature to hobble and strain with every step.

“I saw him again a few more times after that,” Watt said. “I’d see him with others when they passed through, but he couldn’t keep up, and he’d get left behind. They’re herd animals. They really need to be with other burros.”

Watt contacted some of her friends online and asked if they had ever seen anything like it. She eventually received a reply from the Bureau of Land Management. Representatives came from the BLM to see the burro, and decided that he needed to be captured and taken care of, Watt said.

Cathy Ritlaw, of the Journey’s End Ranch Animal Sanctuary in Kingman, offered to take the burro in. Ritlaw is no stranger to burros, and uses 12 acres to care for other wild burros and horses that she’s rescued over the years.

As the lone burro watched from a distance, Watt and her daughter spread hay on the ground to lure it into the area before a bait-trap was set up. “The burro had a fine time eating that hay for a few days,” Watt said. “His tracks were easy to spot in the sand; he had a big drag-mark wherever he walked.”

After two attempts, Watt, her daughter, and a BLM-representative caught several burros, with the target among them. The other burros were released, and the burro was loaded into a livestock trailer.

“He acted very wild when he was first caught,” Ritlaw said. “But he calmed down once he was away from the other burros. It seemed like he somehow understood that people aren’t so bad.”

According to Watt, they stopped the trailer at her residence so that she could have a look at the burro. “This poor guy’s hoof was deformed and growing backwards into a big, long, heavy spiral. The burro was very calm and friendly, and let me pet his nose. He wasn’t upset about any of this. ”

They took the animal to a veterinarian in Kingman, where the burro was sedated and given a tetanus shot. Then, 20 inches of deformed hoof were removed from his foot.

“The vet said that this didn’t look like an injury, but more like a birth defect that he’s had to live with his whole life,” Watt said.

The burro, determined to be approximately 12 years old, had lived with the unrestrained growth of its hoof since it was born. Ritlaw took the creature in, keeping it in a small pen at first. As calm as the animal was, she gave it a quarter-acre of land to itself a day later. Ritlaw named the burro “Poco,” the Spanish word for “small.”

“He’s a little-bitty guy,” Ritlaw said. “He’s about 100 pounds smaller than average, but he’s a survivor. He’s probably had to fight for everything he’s had in life.”

Because of his deformity, Poco was unable to travel far for water or foraging.

“Everyone I’ve talked to is amazed that this guy survived for so long. Now, for the first time in his life, he probably feels safe.”

Poco is still underweight, but Ritlaw intends to release him into the larger fields in her sanctuary to be among her other burros when he’s strong enough, where he will be fed and sheltered for the rest of his life. He will have to be gelded, she said, and she intends to have X-rays performed on the burro’s foot.

Ritlaw said that Poco will never walk normally, but she is looking into the possibility of prosthesis.


We will have Poco’s foot  X rayed when he is gelded soon. If he is in pain, there are several options. One is a brace and another is to have the joint fused. If he seems fairly comfortable, we will leave things as they are, keep that hoof from growing too long again and continue to give him a safer, happier life than he has probably ever known. For now, he is eating like crazy, playing with Pepito and getting a chance to lie down and rest without fear of predators.

Poco Nov. 5

Poco Nov. 5


Poco & Pepito sharing breakfast Nov. 6


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