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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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Daisy and Derrin find loving home in time for Christmas

Daisy and Derrin came into the Sanctuary’s care in April of this year as the result of their owner passing away. The gentleman’s widow sadly was not able to cope with managing the donkeys as she herself was in her mid 70’s and found looking after them on a daily basis too demanding.

Daisy and her daughter Derrin proved to be very kind donkeys and as we worked with both ‘girls’ over the summer their lovely personalities and confidence shone through.

Daisy and Derrin wiht their new Donkey Guardian

Local education and collaboration

One of the aims of The Donkey Sanctuary is to spread the word about how best to care for donkeys far and wide, we officially do so more than once a month in the form of our Donkey Care Courses. After completing the course you will receive a certificate to prove your attendance and your donkey knowledge. We have so many different groups coming from all over the country from private donkey owners, donkey lovers, potential donkey guardians, work experience students, new staff, the list is end-list.

Some of the group members

From Ballinasloe to Barabanki

Not to be outdone by our own Donkey Welfare Adviser team that attend equine fairs for The Donkey Sanctuary Ireland, I made the journey all the way to Barabanki close to the India-Nepal border! An annual extravaganza over one week long with some 5500 horses, mules and donkeys walked or trucked from surrounding areas to be traded: onward as store animals (an investment) or put straight to work as pack or riding animals in the fields, on the roads, building sites and in the brick kilns of India and Nepal.

Donkeys being unloaded on the river bank

Construction in Delhi – donkey power

The Donkey Sanctuary India (DSI) oversees the welfare of some 1500 donkeys working on building sites in Delhi and surrounding neighbourhoods. I visited one such site in Gurgaon on October 18 in the company of DSI veterinarian Dr Surajit Nath. These animals work five to six hours per day labouring to move loads of gravel, sand and cement from heaps placed in the broiling sun into the shaded interior where plasterers await fresh building materials.

A building site where donkeys work

Hart's hardship

Hart is one of our mules in Hannigan's farm: she is 20 years old and never had any problems since she came into our care. On October 13 she presented with a sore and streaming left eye and was started on eye drops as well as pain relieve to treat what seemed to be a deep keratitis (injury of the cornea).

After the weekend her condition had worsened considerably and now her entire eye was involved with thick greenish yellow discharge coming from her swollen painful eye. She was treated conservatively with a 10 day course of intravenous antibiotics and pain medication.

Hart's eye before the procedure

Frozen donkeys no more!

Many at The Donkey Sanctuary remember the rescue of a group of donkeys from a farm in Tipperary in the depths of a bitter winter three years ago – they became known as the Frozen Donkeys and are now safely in sanctuary care in Liscarroll. The Farms team have done a wonderful job, nursing them back to health and fostering confidence in humans again.

Frozen donkeys no more

Four donkeys saved from a life of neglect

Our Welfare team recently received a call about four donkeys that were abandoned in the Cooley Mountains in Louth. The donkeys were seized by the County Council and taken to Louth pound. The Donkey Sanctuary lorry hit the road in order to bring these four donkeys to the safety and protection of The Sanctuary.

All four donkeys’ feet needed attention, especially Scamper, who had approximately 4 inches of growth as a result of not being treated by a farrier and Scamper also has a Sarcoid (tumour) under his eye which is under examination.

Scamper with very overgrown feet


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