A cross-sectional study was conducted out from November 2017 to April 2018 with the objectives of assessing welfare problems and determining risk factors on cart pulling donkeys in Arbaminch and Sodo towns, Southern Ethiopia. Both direct methods, based on observation of animals, and indirect methods, interviews of the owners which indicates the resource bases, were used to collect data. A total of 384 randomly selected cart donkeys were examined and the owners were interviewed. Donkeys with body lesions of at least in three sites of mild nature or having severe lesion or musculoskeletal and hoof problems or common diseases signs or poor body condition were categorized as having a welfare problem. Accordingly, the overall welfare problems were found to be 62.5%. The prevalence of wound was 45.3%, musculoskeletal and hoof problems were 14.1% and poor body condition was 35.7%. The prevalence of the determinants of welfare problem relatively exceeds in Arbaminch than in Sodo town. The weight carried on a donkey at a time was found to be statistically significantly associated with the occurrence of welfare problems (p-value = 0.038). The study also indicated that there was significant difference between the distances travelled per day to the occurrence of welfare problem (p-value = 0.026). Among the 192 respondents interviewed in each town, most of the respondents (53.9%) were illiterate and though most respondents believed that maintaining working donkey welfare is their responsibility (73.4%). Most of the respondents were not aware of donkey welfare issues (66.1%). In conclusion, cart donkeys in the present study areas were experiencing a multitude of health and welfare problems. Hence, it is recommended that a comprehensive donkey health and welfare improvement programs are needed. Besides, there should be integrated awareness creation by the concerned bodies.
Keywords: Animal Welfare, Arbaminch town, Cart donkeys, Sodo town