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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.

Help us to care for donkeys like Echo

The start of a new life for Echo began when welfare adviser Jane Bruce responded to a report of a donkey with extremely long hooves. When she attended the location, she discovered Echo, a severely neglected donkey whose hooves were at least three times the length of normal hooves.

“The neglect of Echo’s hooves stands out as one of the worst cases that I have witnessed”, says Jane. “He was shifting his weight from one foot to another in order to alleviate the pain in his hooves. He could not be left to continue to suffer in this state”.

Echo came into our care in pain, with very long hooves.

Seven foals rescued just in time

When we were alerted about a group of donkeys outdoors during a cold snap, we responded to help guarantee their well being.

In January, we received a call from a concerned member of the public about a group of donkeys in Kerry described as ‘underfed and miserable’. With a yellow
weather warning already in place for snow and ice, welfare adviser Ciara O’Kelly responded quickly.

Seven foals brought into our care

How Donkeys Differ - they are not small horses with big ears!

Although donkeys share ancestral origins with horses, they have evolved differently over millions of years and are different. Domestication has done little yet to dull their natural instincts. Dullness (in the sense of apparent despondency) in donkeys is as serious as colic or long-bone fracture in horses: the dull donkey may already be suffering (but hiding) a terminal illness. We sometimes mistake 'stoicism' for indifference. The ‘stoic’ donkey will often mask severe signs of disease – it is not that he is not suffering. It is more that he doesn’t wish to show weakness to the world, as the latter is not a good survival strategy in the wild.

Chief Veterinary Adviser, Joe Collins

Tootsie, our beloved mule

It is with sadness we inform you that our wonderful 56 year old mule, Tootsie has passed away. Tootsie, who came to our sanctuary in 1992 was always a lively character who was first to the trough and took no nonsense from other donkeys and mules. In the past few years, Tootsie lived in our elderly donkey group at Hannigans Farm.

Tootsie the mule

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