Are we experiencing an increase in mule numbers in Ireland?
Or are we simply reaching more mules in need? Perhaps people are more aware now of the work we do rescuing and rehabilitating these unique animals? Whatever the answer, we can safely say that in the past 29 years on the frontline of equine welfare in Ireland we have never had to deal with so many mules and hinnies as we have in the last year. All shapes, sizes, ages and colours but all with the same need; a safe haven.
There is an attitude in Ireland of disdain, almost ridicule, towards mules. ''What do you want that for?'' ''What use is it?'' ''Sure it's worthless''....are the usual responses I get when I make enquiries to secure the safety of a mule. So why do we bother? What are we doing spending our valuable resources on an animal deemed so unworthy? Because to us they are precious.
When faced with mules in need, we don't see a worthless waste of time, we see an intelligent, sensitive, loyal soul who has been let down by those who should have known better. We see a new challenge to interact with a frightened sceptical creature. We see an athlete, an amazing hybrid of the very best a donkey and horse can offer, an opportunity to interact with a sentient being unlike any other.
What's the answer to the mule problem? A castration program for donkey stallions? That would certainly make an impact on unwanted foal numbers. Education? Teaching mule behaviour, helping people to interact safely and appropriately with these misunderstood equids would perhaps make a difference to the relinquishment requests due to 'dangerous' behaviour. We hold regular Donkey Care Courses which provide comprehensive information on how to care for donkeys and mules.
We aim to further promote mules as worthy companion and performance animals and we hope this will start to change the attitude of the Irish public. Who better than The Donkey Sanctuary to lead the way as mule cheerleaders. For more information please call our Welfare Department on 022-49013.