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In many societies donkeys are regarded as low status animals and can be bought very inexpensively. Because of this, they are usually very mistreated.
In a lot of countries donkeys are used as working animals. They are often forced to do more work than their small bodies can handle. And because they can be bought so inexpensively, they are very poorly taken care of.
Since a new donkey is often cheaper than veterinary care, sick or injured donkeys are often tied to posts without food or water and left to die. It is also very common for stray donkeys to get severely abused just for fun.
Donkeys are among the animals who are severely abused at live animal markets in China.
Truck after truck piled high with white goats begin arriving at the market, while donkeys are being dragged out of sheds and loaded into cages, trucked off to be slaughtered elsewhere. Frightened and exhausted, several have no strength to rise to their feet and the traders kick them in the stomachs and beat their backs with metal poles until they can stand the agony no more and rise on shaking legs. Even then, the abuse continues and the traders continue beating them and grabbing their tails, painfully twisting them into knots, and forcing the donkeys to climb up the metal ramps into the cages.
-- Jill Robinson from the Animals Asia Foundation
Some restaurants in China offer fresh donkey meat where pieces of a donkey are sliced off for the diners, while the donkey is still alive. Diners are able to hear the donkey's cries of agony in the background. Lurou huoshao is a popular snack in China. It is stuffed with donkey meat.
In countries like Spain and Greece, donkeys are used as "Donkey Taxis". The majority of Donkey Taxi operators only care about the profit and don't take good care of the animals at all. During the day they are exposed to very high temperatures with little or no shelter, food or water and are made to carry people that are too heavy for their bodies. At night, they usually get their feet tied together to prevent them from walking off.
Donkeys as Pets
Donkeys are sometimes kept as pets. They are however often very poorly taken care of. It is not uncommon to find donkeys left to fend for themselves in backyards. Pet donkeys are frequently found with deformed and crippled feet, emaciated bodies from parasite infestation, dental problems or lack of food. Other pet donkeys are overfed and suffer from severe obesity.