SCITUATE — Karen Lanoue is celebrating a happy ending this week after a five-month journey including many nights of missed sleep tracking down her lost donkey, which was caught last week in a goat pen at a nearby farm.
Last Saturday, Scott Bergantino of the Perfect Puppy was able to do what others had failed at, using only hay to trap the runaway Scituate donkey in his goat pen. Bergantino said he saw the donkey wandering around his property for about a week and a half, and though he approached her, the donkey would run off.
Bergantino owns a farm off Chopmist Hill Road where he keeps goats as pets. He said the donkey seemed to just graze in his fields, not interacting with other animals or people.
“My wife and I have tried to catch her a few times since then. We realized we had to trap her,” he said.
Bergantino said the donkey is fairly large for a miniature, and reaches a good-paced gallop when scared. Rather than chase her, Bergantino said he let the donkey come to him.
Bergantino said he was watching the Red Sox play last Friday night and had enough of seeing the team “blow it in the first and third.” Earlier that day, he’d moved his goats into a separate area and left the gates open on their pen with a bundle of hay for bait.
“I turned off the TV and drove down to the pen. Sure enough, she was there. She tried to bolt, then blasted back into the pen. That was it. I closed the gate,” Bergantino said.
Bergantino and his family had been in contact with Lanoue over the days leading up to the donkey’s capture. He said she and a friend came to bring the donkey home, but it proved to be difficult. He said he contacted the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for help bringing the donkey home.
“I like animals and all, but I don’t want a donkey. These past few days were enough,” he said.
Both Bergantino and Lanoue said the donkey is a healthy weight, though its hooves are in rough shape. Lanoue said she noticed the hooves needed attention when the donkey arrived five months ago, only to escape her grasp and lead area residents on a long and often fruitless chase, and they’re in much worse condition now.
Lanoue said she is relieved and incredibly grateful to Bergantino and God for capturing the donkey safely.
She has not named the donkey yet, but is considering “Traveling Jane” or “Runaround Sue” as options.
Lanoue sought the public’s help in June after the delivery of the companion donkey for her miniature donkey went south, and the new arrival flew the coop moments after exiting the vehicle.
Speaking with The Valley Breeze & Observer on Monday, Lanoue said the donkey seemed calm and content at Bergantino’s farm. She said her niece, who purchased the donkey for her from a farm in the south, contacted the seller to disclose its runaway status.
“She told my niece not to worry, that she would stop at a farm eventually,” she said.
Lanoue received a number calls from people who spotted the donkey over the months. She said she thinks the donkey likes Bergantino’s goats, as it was bred to protect livestock. During its time on the loose, the donkey encountered a dog, which it kicked, and Lanoue paid the veterinarian bill.
“I’m just thankful she didn’t get hit by a car, that she’s all right, and no one got hurt,” Lanoue said.
She contacted her veterinarian, and said the donkey may need to be tranquilized for the move to her farm. Once inside the new pen, she said it is very unlikely the donkey will escape again.
Lanoue said the last months were full of sleepless nights beating herself up. She said she worried about the donkey being hit by a car or attacked by predators. With winter approaching, she added a new set of worries, including the possibility of the donkey falling through the ice of the Scituate Reservoir or running out of food to graze.
“I’m just glad he caught her. Winter is coming. You know, thank God they got her,” she said.