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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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Just in time for Thomas and Buddy

Due to the prolonged wet weather water levels have risen, the land is saturated and calls to help animals suffering as a result have escalated.
One such call from an owner of a donkey and his Shetland pony companion immediately gave me cause for concern.

Buddy before being rescue

Storm Desmond – a collaborative effort

What started off as a routine check of cattle tags on a Meath farm by Department of Agriculture (DAFM) officials turned into a full blown donkey rescue with a wholly unexpected twist in the tail – Storm Desmond. The farmer in question admitted to having ‘’a couple of donkeys’’ on the land; however a quick walk of the 40 acres saw this increase to 15 donkeys, with some very obvious hoof issues. The donkeys were extremely timid and difficult to approach so the Dept. vet called Donkey Welfare Adviser Cathy Griffin for advice and support.

Cara - one of the mares before she was rescued

The Donkey Sanctuary calls for carefully considered changes to agricultural subsidies

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney received an independent report on matters relating to donkey welfare in Ireland. The report, launched at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, links the uncontrolled eligibility of donkeys for subsidy payments granted for ‘Areas of Natural Constraint’ (ANC) with potentially driving a market for indiscriminate breeding.

Minister Simon Coveney & Noel Carton, Head of Operations at The Donkey Sanctuary

Donkeys abandoned in derelict warehouse find solace with the Sanctuary

It’s hard to envisage what to expect when you receive a call concerning two donkeys abandoned in a disused site and what you will see when you arrive there. Our Welfare team is certainly used to dealing with unexpected situations but we are naturally often shocked ourselves by what we see. It seems that the parameters of donkey neglect and irresponsible management are constantly being stretched further and further…

The area where the donkeys were rescued from

Global Wave to World Animal Day

Here at The Donkey Sanctuary we are getting together with our donkeys and mules to celebrate World Animal Day.

Sunday, October 4, marks the global event which aims to raise the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the world.

The Donkey Sanctuary works to strive towards our vision of creating a world where donkeys and mules live free form suffering, and their contribution to humanity is fully valued.

We are delighted to be joining the Global Wave of selfies in a bid to boost the awareness of World Animal Day!.

Eugene Butler with faithful friend Dessie

Donkeys come first, second and third

Our mantra at The Donkey Sanctuary is that donkeys come first, second and third - they are at the heart of all we do. This certainly was the case for donkeys Casey, Clancy and Callaghan rescued from possible euthanasia at the end of their stay in a local equine pound. Abandoned and unwanted, they were deemed of little value to their one-time owner – an inconvenience and burden to someone’s world, needs and lifestyle. All three donkeys are now just over two years old; for the first few months of their lives they must have been attractive adorable little foals.

Casey, Clancy and Callaghan

Cadbury finds care and protection

This three year old stallion donkey was rescued recently by The Donkey Sanctuary. He was left abandoned on a road and presented with a wound on his neck and with a very nervous and scared demeanour.

We are unsure of what trauma and abuse he has suffered in the past but we are sure that those days are over for him now. The fear in his eyes will slowly fade away as he learns from our patient and loving staff what is to be cared for and protected.

Cadbury with fear in his eyes

A journey to happiness for Comet and Eclipse

Stunning donkeys Comet and Eclipse have experienced a great deal in their short lives. Comet is just under 3 years old and Eclipse is Comet's foal and is a one year old.

The beautiful donkeys were purchased in the good times and with the economic downturn came the emigration of their owner. The donkeys were left in the care of an elderly gentleman whose health was declining.

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Comet and Eclipse

Super Granny Donkeys

Did you know that donkeys can live for up to fifty years if treated correctly? We have almost 1,700 donkeys altogether in our care in Ireland ranging from new-born foals to our oldest donkey Tootsie who is the amazing age of 53 years!

Some of our more mature donkeys having a rest


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