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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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Expectations – we all have values, standards, needs and dreams. These lead us to have expectations. The Donkey Sanctuary have expectations when it comes to placing our donkeys in guardian homes. Preparing to rehome two donkeys can for some people involve additional work which varies from basic adaptions to their property to additional construction depending on their existing facilities. The basics include a shed, an area of hardstanding (concrete, stone or other dry surface) a source of clean water and a paddock suitably fenced. An electric fence is also considered a wise investment.

Ruby and Superstar leave The Donkey Sanctuary

Transforming the lives of donkeys (and equines) in need

The Donkey Sanctuary recently collaborated with local equine charities ‘My Lovely Horse Rescue’ and ‘The Equine Rescue Network’ to find homes for no less than 8 equines, 2 of which were donkeys and one a yearling mule.

Following a request to rehome two donkeys and a mule, our Welfare Adviser arrived to find that the donkeys and mule were also company to a consignment of several ponies all equally facing an uncertain future and in need of a home.

Rehomed Cob My Lovely Horse Rescue Equine Welfare Network

Safe from the bush fire

I associate bush fires with places like Australia and they conjure images of kangaroos running from the flames.

Our work brings us into some of the remotes parts of Ireland and when the RTE news carries a headline “Firefighters make major progress over gorse fire” its implications for donkeys was not immediately obvious.

The fire was on a hillside commonage in Co Sligo and very extensive with approximately 4,000 acres affected by the fire.

Donkeys safe and sound

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


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