It amazes me sometimes when I think about how many wonderful people live here on this small little island of ours. There are so many people who do so many wonderful things and Dana Bartlett is no exception.
Dana’s name may sound familiar to some of you. She runs the Carolina Corral out on Coral Bay. We took a nice horseback ride with her a few months back and shared it with all of you. (You can click here to read all about it and to see pics.) Well earlier this week, I received a great email about Dana that I’d like to share all of you. It was sent to us by Pamela Holmes, a wildlife rehabilitator from New England who visits St. John regularly. I think you’ll all like it.
I had heard about Dana, the “person who takes care of the donkeys”, when we first came to St. John last January. As a wildlife rehabilitator in New England, I knew our paths would cross. My boyfriend and I came back in December for the winter and I soon met a lone male donkey with fresh scrapes above his eyes on the road to our villa in Coral Bay. I immediately called Dana. She called me right back and said that it was fine that he was by himself and that she would meet me to give me medication for his scrapes. She thanked me for looking after him and we quickly formed a friendship.
I visited her farm and was amazed that she cared for numerous rescued animals by herself including eight donkeys, eight horses, a three-legged sheep, a goat, dozens of chickens and ducks, two dogs and three cats. All of their shelter, food, medications, insurance and rental of the property are paid for out of her own pocket. She gives horseback trail rides, sells fertilizer and now eggs to help offset some of the costs as well as support herself.
She called me on Sunday evening, Feb. 1, saying she was going to check on a donkey that she had received a call about who appeared to be missing a hoof and was bleeding. She called me back shortly later saying it was pretty bad and she needed to get the bleeding to stop. I told her we would come and help. Upon arriving, we saw that the donkey had made its way onto a driveway. The pregnant donkey was hobbling on three legs with a back leg bleeding as the hoof was indeed missing. She had possibly got it caught in a grate. Dana knew the donkey and several babies she had already had. Luckily, the donkey let us put a halter on her and Dana immediately administered a tranquilizer. She had been texting with a local vet and getting advice. After tying her between two trees, two of us tried to hold her still as Dana started cleaning her wound, bandaging it as best as she could. It was already dark and we were using flashlights. The tranquilizer took effect and she went down. We had to loosen her lead so her head was not being pulled and made a makeshift pillow for her. Soon she started shaking all over, possibly going into shock. We covered her with a couple of sheets. Once she seemed stable, Dana re-bandaged her to make sure it wasn’t too tight. Shortly before midnight, she was concerned that when the tranquilizer wore off, the donkey would get up and potentially get tangled in her lead. She went home and grabbed her own bedding, came back and laid it down on the ground. Dana spent the night with the donkey. I was blown away. Her dedication was beyond words.
The next morning, she arranged for someone with a pickup truck to bring the donkey to her farm. It took five of us to get her into the truck and out of the truck from which she jumped landing on three legs. She was a trooper! Dana decided to name her Suzie Q and she is recovering in her own stall at the farm. Dana will keep her until her hoof grows back and has her baby. She will then be looking for a home for her.
Dana told me that Suzie had a baby about 3 years ago who was found with a leg broken. She though the baby was probably lying down on the side of the road when a car ran over her. Baby Girl, as Dana named her, healed up after the vet, Laura, drilled pins into the cannon bone secured by epoxy tubing. She went to St. Croix to a home that wanted donkeys to protect their sheep and goats. Another one of Dana’s rescued donkeys is a jack, Stormy, who was hit by a car while being pursued by another male. He has an irreparable shoulder injury and is now a permanent resident of the corral.
Dana has been rescuing animals on St. John since 1992 beginning with a lamb. For 23 years, she has been a one-woman show, giving 110% with a 55% budget. She is truly a compassionate spirit with no one devoting as much attention to the wild donkeys on the island as she does. Her rescued animals are always in need of feed and hay, medical supplies and general maintenance materials. Donations through the local feed shops, Home Depot gift card and veterinary services, etc. would be deeply appreciated.
If you would like to make a donation, sponsor Suzie Q or any other rescued animal, please visit her website for more information, www.horsesstjohn.com. Contributions can also be made via PayPal to the Carolina Corral. Suzie Q and all the needy wild animals of St. John. Thank you!