Footage of a donkey being killed with a mechanical digger in India has appalled the British-based charity, The Donkey Sanctuary, which says it is taking legal action over the incident.
The donkey was repeatedly hit with the bucket of an excavator because of fears it had caught rabies from a dead dog. The Donkey Sanctuary said a video clip of the incident, which is on You Tube, was taken in the town of Churu, in Rajastan, India on August 7. The clip shows a local official using the bucket of a mechanical digger to knock the donkey to the ground and then repeatedly hit it on the head and body.
Local people had seen the donkey sniffing a dog that was thought to have died of rabies and suspected it may have contracted the disease. They contacted their local municipality, which sent a man and a digger to deal with the situation.
"This is a truly brutal and shocking video which shows the donkey being treated with extreme and needless cruelty," says Stephen Blakeway, director of international operations for the charity.
"If advice had been sought, the donkey could either have been quarantined to see if it had any symptoms or euthanised humanely. In this case, the municipality's response broke Indian Animal Welfare law so we have now started a process of legal action.
"We have instructed our legal adviser, who is one of India's top animal welfare lawyers, to initiate action. He is now working closely with the Animal Welfare Board of India and the local Society for the Protection of Animals in order to bring a prosecution.
"We cannot bring the donkey back to life, and we are not interested in impoverishing a municipality that may already be short of money to meet its responsibilities, but a legal case will publicise that there are humane ways to respond to such situations and so reduce the chance that this terrible action will be repeated."
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals act in India (1960) lists torturing an animal as an illegal and punishable offence.
The act sets out a procedure for the destruction of ill and suffering animals; a government veterinarian should have been called to provide a medical opinion on the matter and to euthanise the animal humanely if required, which did not happen in this case.
The Donkey Sanctuary has been working in India since 1988, with five mobile veterinary teams based in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Gwalior, Sikar and Solapur working to help donkeys and mules.