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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.

Young donkey found abandoned at horse fair

Last week Chief Veterinary Advisor, Joe Collins and Donkey Welfare Adviser, Ciara O’Kelly attended Tallow Horse Fair on behalf of The Donkey Sanctuary. Ciara quickly located a thin, young donkey that Gardaí at the fair were concerned for. The donkey was abandoned, tied to a pole with no owner in sight. Ciara knew instantly that he needed our help. Meanwhile, members of the public and other welfare groups also voiced concern for the donkey.

Walshie was found alone and tied to a pole

Helping a solitary donkey called Dylan

Earlier this year the owners of a donkey named Dylan reached out to us for help as they were having difficulty handling and managing him. Welfare adviser Ciara O’Kelly responded and found that Dylan had lived as a solitary donkey for the past three years. Dylan had developed behavioural habits commonly seen when young male donkeys are kept without a suitable companion. Ciara recognised that Dylan would benefit from donkey company and appropriate human interaction and recommended that he come into our care.

Dylan with Eugene

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

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

Janus' Story

On an ordinary day in January, welfare adviser Ian Colton received an urgent call about a donkey that needed our help. Shortly afterwards, the donkey we called Janus came into our care. This is his story.

Janus found it difficult and painful to stand due to the length of his hooves.

Eddie, back on his hooves

Our vet team worked hard to ensure that Eddie, a donkey with a bleak future received all the treatment he needed to turn his life around.

Late last year, a man requested help with his donkey Eddie who had difficulty standing in his field. The donkey’s hooves were extremely long and misshapen and he was suffering from severe laminitis (a cripplingly painful foot disease).

Eddie's daily massage

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