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In 2019 a group of fourteen donkeys from Co. Cork came into our care. Parsley was one of the youngest donkeys in this group. Unused to being handled, he was nervous and frightened.
Parsley was thin and his lice infested coat was dirty and matted. The New Arrivals team knew they needed to treat Parsley urgently. Given that Parsley was a wild foal - due to lack of human contact before his rescue - he was sedated in order for his coat to be fully clipped.
Ask any American about the Irish and their donkeys and they will tell you about a Connemara landscape where a red headed boy and his little sister are loading turf into the creels (baskets) on the back of a donkey. What they actually remember is a famous postcard by the late John Hinde who had a post card printing business in Dublin. He was a pioneer of colour photography and at his peak he sold over 50 million postcards annually. There was no email, Facebook or Instagram back in his day, yet the popularity of his postcards led to them being posted all over the world. The card featuring the boy loading turf onto the donkey was probably one of the most iconic images of its day.
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.
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.
The Donkey Sanctuary remains at the forefront of donkey welfare issues, promoting responsible ownership, health care and addressing the over production of donkeys in Ireland. We identified a worrying trend from the beginning of 2019 of unwanted donkey foals of which 12 alone this year have been relinquished into our care.
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.
It can take just a single phone call to change my day. I had a few routine calls lined up for a short January day but these were quickly abandoned after a more urgent call from a Department of Agriculture Veterinary Inspector about a donkey that he was concerned about. I followed him into a yard, where we passed the carcasses of several small animals in plain sight in our search for the donkey. We found him lying down and reluctant to get up which is never a good sign and raised my fears for his health.
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).
Just before Christmas 2017, The Donkey Sanctuary highlighted the plight of three abandoned mares named Faith, Hope and Charity to the general public. The plight of the donkeys received widespread coverage in the Belfast Telegraph newspaper and UTV (Ulster Television). The publicity attracted a lot of support and interest from the general public both keen to support our work and expressing an interest in our rehoming scheme.
Hold a coffee morning for The Donkey Sanctuary to help raise much needed funds to help us look after our wonderful donkeys. Since we opened our gates in 1987, we have loved and cared for over 5,600 donkeys. Right now, we are at capacity with over 1800 donkeys in our care. Thanks to your generosity we can continue to look after them all.
Hosting a coffee morning is easy. Wherever and whenever is up to you! Your coffee morning can take place anywhere that suits you: your home, community centre, place of work, school etc.Your guests simply give a donation for a cuppa and cake.
When we were snowed in for a week recently I cleared an area on my concrete yard where I could let my donkeys out when the weather improved. The snow has at last gone but we have had plenty of rain of late. My yard is part concreted and part (supposedly) a hard gravel surface. However like so many Guardian homes I have visited in the last few weeks once you step off the concrete you are into sloppy muck area or worse! The photo shows four donkeys being led around my concrete by participants during my most recent Donkey Care Course (10th March).