Baby Miniature Donkey Gets A Pacemaker

Baby Kaya


For some unknown reason, Kaya, a three-week-old miniature donkey was suffering from episodes of fainting.  She was taken to her local veterinarian who performed a complete physical examination.

The vet soon discovered a systolic heart murmur.  In addition, he could hear dropped heart beats that he believed were associated with the fainting.

After an electrocardiogram confirmed an abnormal heart rhythm, the veterinarian referred Kaya to the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at UC Davis.

It was there that “Kaya” was seen by both the Large Animal Internal Medicine Department and the Cardiology Department.

They learned that not only was Kaya experiencing fainting episodes, but she was an unusually quiet baby donkey.  She never bucked or played like a normal baby.

Upon further examination, the UC Davis veterinarians agreed with the diagnosis made by Kaya’s local vet. Kaya had both heart murmurs and an abnormal heart rhythm.

To understand the causes of these abnormal findings, the UC Davis veterinarians performed both an electrocardiogram (ECG) and an echocardiogram (cardiac ultrasound).

The ECG showed an abnormal rhythm (arrhythmia) consistent with third-degree AV block, which is a failure of the inherent pace-keeping mechanism of the heart.

The ultrasound showed that the mitral, tricuspid and aortic valves were slightly leaky but that the overall structure and size of the heart were normal.

Routine lab work ruled out infection or electrolyte disturbances as the underlying causes of the arrhythmia.

Given these findings, it was suspected that Kaya’s third-degree AV block might be congenital, meaning they were present at birth as a result of hereditary or environmental influences.

It was decided to give Kaya a pacemaker to treat the arrhythmia. However, there were important considerations for Kaya’s health regarding the placement of the pacemaker.

First, given Kaya’s age, it was likely that she would outgrow her pacemaker and that a second surgery would in all probability be required.

Secondly,  the placement of the pacemaker was critical. The jugular vein used for the placement of the pacemaker could never be used to administer intravenous medications or to draw blood.

After careful consultation, Kaya was placed under general anesthesia and a pacemaker was installed. The evidence of the pacemaker’s success was seen immediately.

Little Kaya bucked  for the first time that same evening!

It was six months later that Kaya  returned for a second and larger pacemaker.  This surgery and the placement of her second pacemaker was successful.

Kaya is a now a very happy, bouncing donkey !



Horse Report – School of Veterinary Medicine -UC Davis
March 2013


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What If Your Horse Is Stolen?


Debi Metcalfe reunited with
her stolen horse “Idaho”.


If your horse is stolen go directly to:
Stolen Horse International at


A Shelby, North Carolina  woman
has made it her mission to find stolen horses.

Debi Metcalfe and her husband, Harold, lost a family member. Their horse, Idaho, was horse-napped, in broad day light from their pasture.

A year later, they found Idaho in Tennessee.

This is how Stolen Horse International and was born and has now celebrated over 10 years of success.

The website has Idaho Alerts which are similar to AMBER Alerts for missing children where members are alerted when a horse, tack or even trailers are stolen.

An estimated 40,000 horses are stolen each year in the United States.

During the Metcalfes’ search, someone set up a Web space for the couple and after finding their horse, they decided to help out other people on the Web. That’s how her site was started.

“We got so much help, I thought I owed it back,” she said.

Since founding her organization, Debi has written a book and been part of television news stories, newspaper and magazine articles and her expertise was used on Fox’s “America’s Most Wanted” in August.

She appeared as the cover story on The Gaited Horse magazine in an edition that sold out and was most recently featured on “Weekend America,” a Public Broadcasting radio show.

We do a lot more than stolen horses,” Debi said. “That’s how we were started, but we do so much more now.”

Her priority is working with people whose horses are missing first. That comes ahead of fundraising and other functions.

“We try to stress that even if the horse is not found alive and well, it’s better to know than have questions,” she said.

Inspiration … Debi has empathy for the people she helps.

On the NetPosse site is a list of stolen or missing horses across the United States. Also included are photos, dates and current status.

Below are just two of the many horses that have been stolen. 
For complete listings:  Click here:


Stolen:  LPS Mr. Jalapeno
Bay Morgan Gelding Missing in California suspected to be in Arizona – Feb. 6, 2007


Fleabitten Grey Arabian Gelding Stolen after dark from Therapy Progam in Newton County, Georgia – Feb. 3, 2008


If you have a horse that has been stolen or strangely disappeared, do not hesitate.  Contact immediately.

If you recognize the horses pictured above, click on the name of the horse for more information.

It takes everyone working together to keep our horses safe and in their own homes.


Farm Photo: The Variety Pack


Renewable Energy


Rare Poitou Donkey Foals Born


The news just doesn’t get any better for a rare breed of donkeys that grow to be taller than most horses.

A British stud farm dedicated to preserving the rare Poitou donkey has managed to breed four foals within a 20-day period – two colts and two fillies.


Just 44 Poitou donkeys were known to exist in 1976. Their numbers have since increased to an estimated 600 to 800 worldwide.

The four newcomers, Tilda, Tomas, Tarka and Tizer, have proved to be a big hit for Woodford Farm, in Hampshire.


The farm eventually had to put up “no entry” signs after being inundated by members of the public to see the photogenic little newcomers.

The mares and their foals also became media darlings, with BBC local and national news services carrying the story.

However, the publicity has had a plus side. “We have had some genuine interest from other people who want to help save the breed,” said owner,  Annie Pollack.  

“We have had a short film made about us by the BBC Natural History Department.  

I just want more people to hear about Poitous and hence help save the breed.”


The first of the four foals was born on April 27; the other three following over the next 20 days.

The breed is much bigger than conventional donkeys, and can reach 16 hands. Poitous have a good covering of hair, with heat usually more of a problem than cold.

Life for the Poitous on Woodford Farm would be the envy of many horses. They have shelter from the rain and are fed twice daily, with lots of hay. They are groomed regularly and Annie says the foals get a lot of handling.


They are believed to date back to Roman times, with the records of the time referring to big donkeys.

“It was the whole industrialisation process that caused their downfall – railways, mechanisation, and a depression in agriculture.”

There is another reason for the Poitou‘s rarity.

“This breed was primarily used to breed mules – huge great 17-hand animals which were used for riding or as pack animals. They were crossed with a Mulassier mare, which is like a large, heavyweight French cob. They are also very rare.”


Annie says, “The Poitou are a lovely breed – gentle giants.  Worth saving?  I definitely think so.”