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Donkey Welfare

We provide support, help and advice to anyone involved in caring for or thinking of caring for donkeys and mules. As well as a team based at the main Sanctuary in Sidmouth, Devon, there is a network of welfare advisers throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe who are there to provide direct help and support to donkeys in need and to donkey owners both from our foster scheme or from private homes and organisations.

We help organise the relinquishment of donkeys and mules into the Sanctuary's care as well as oversee the fostering scheme. We are also the team to help if you see a donkey or mule in trouble.

Advice, help and support on caring for your donkeys is provided by our welfare team by calling 022 49013, Monday-Friday, 9.00 am to 4.30 pm (answerphone service outside of these hours).

All calls are strictly confidential.

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Donkey Care Courses

The Donkey Sanctuary welfare team provide donkey care courses throughout Ireland catering for all abilities, levels of knowledge and interest. On Saturday past eleven enthusiastic individuals gathered in my kitchen to learn more about the wonderful world of donkeys! It became clear to me that there were four distinct groups present:

Group 1 – exuberantly enthusiast persons, keen on learning more about donkeys but had never cared for an animal bigger than a Labrador dog.

The group of donkeys enthusiasts attending the course

TV debut for our donkeys

On Sunday night last I got a phone-call about a slot that had opened up on the RTÉ Today Show on Monday evening. I spoke at length with Denise the researcher and we got the ball rolling! Denise wanted a donkey to come to the studio but after explaining that donkeys require companionship she quickly agreed that two donkeys would be more suitable and we knew the two girls that would be right for the job- Molly and Ginny.

Maura, Daithi, Molly, Ginny, Joe and Tríona

Home for Christmas

I first met Comet and Eclipse in July 2015, two stunning skewbald donkeys, mother and daughter. Although their elderly owner cared about them, he could no longer care for them and contacted The Donkey Sanctuary for help rehoming his donkeys. They made the long journey from Meath to Cork where they received much needed attention to their hooves, teeth and other routine treatments. Although gentle and friendly, both mares were nervous and had received only limited handling. It would take some time to return both to full health and build their trust in people.

Comet and Eclipse adapting to their new home

Daisy and Derrin find loving home in time for Christmas

Daisy and Derrin came into the Sanctuary’s care in April of this year as the result of their owner passing away. The gentleman’s widow sadly was not able to cope with managing the donkeys as she herself was in her mid 70’s and found looking after them on a daily basis too demanding.

Daisy and her daughter Derrin proved to be very kind donkeys and as we worked with both ‘girls’ over the summer their lovely personalities and confidence shone through.

Daisy and Derrin wiht their new Donkey Guardian

Local education and collaboration

One of the aims of The Donkey Sanctuary is to spread the word about how best to care for donkeys far and wide, we officially do so more than once a month in the form of our Donkey Care Courses. After completing the course you will receive a certificate to prove your attendance and your donkey knowledge. We have so many different groups coming from all over the country from private donkey owners, donkey lovers, potential donkey guardians, work experience students, new staff, the list is end-list.

Some of the group members

From Ballinasloe to Barabanki

Not to be outdone by our own Donkey Welfare Adviser team that attend equine fairs for The Donkey Sanctuary Ireland, I made the journey all the way to Barabanki close to the India-Nepal border! An annual extravaganza over one week long with some 5500 horses, mules and donkeys walked or trucked from surrounding areas to be traded: onward as store animals (an investment) or put straight to work as pack or riding animals in the fields, on the roads, building sites and in the brick kilns of India and Nepal.

Donkeys being unloaded on the river bank

Construction in Delhi – donkey power

The Donkey Sanctuary India (DSI) oversees the welfare of some 1500 donkeys working on building sites in Delhi and surrounding neighbourhoods. I visited one such site in Gurgaon on October 18 in the company of DSI veterinarian Dr Surajit Nath. These animals work five to six hours per day labouring to move loads of gravel, sand and cement from heaps placed in the broiling sun into the shaded interior where plasterers await fresh building materials.

A building site where donkeys work

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