Donkey Welfare Improvement Scheme

The Donkey Sanctuary Ireland has rescued over 5,600 donkeys and mules since 1987. Sadly due to an increase in indiscriminate donkey breeding and in subsequent abandonments over the past five years, our Sanctuary is now full to capacity.

About the scheme

To help tackle the problems at source, The Donkey Sanctuary has introduced a Donkey Welfare Improvement Scheme (DWIS) to help to improve the welfare of donkeys in private ownership in Ireland.

This scheme will be of particular interest to donkey owners/keepers involved in the Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme (ANC) and to those with un-neutered donkeys. The ANC scheme permits farmers to use donkeys as ‘Livestock Units’ in disadvantaged areas but doesn’t directly assist them in improving the welfare of the donkeys they keep.

We are encouraging people that may need help with their donkeys to contact us to enquire about veterinary improvements such as castration, microchipping, veterinary treatment and farriery.

All costs are covered directly by The Donkey Sanctuary, we are grateful that the Department of Agriculture has helped us to fund this initiative through animal welfare funding.

Helping your donkeys

The main objectives of this scheme are to improve the living conditions for donkeys in Ireland and to reduce the number of unwanted foals being born each year.

Please get in touch with us if you have donkeys that require welfare improvements.

We are here to help you help your donkeys.

Frequently asked questions

What is the Donkey Welfare Improvement Scheme (DWIS)?

The scheme enables The Donkey Sanctuary to support donkeys in private ownership with practical help and assistance. The aim of the scheme is to assist donkey owners/keepers in keeping their donkeys healthy and well, and in their private care in preference to seeking to relinquish them to animal welfare charities such as ourselves. Help may include items such as advice, veterinary, dental and farrier services, and the provision of suitable feed.

Who is the scheme targeting?

Increasingly our field staff are called to donkeys whose owners do not have the knowledge, experience and sometimes the financial means to provide best care for their donkeys. Donkeys and people suffer before many such animals are offered for rescue by animal welfare organisations. The scheme is aimed at assisting such persons in providing care.

Does the scheme provide an emergency service?

This scheme is not intended to provide an emergency service and if your donkey is unwell you should consult your own veterinary practice. The Donkey Sanctuary veterinary team is always willing to provide advice and share its donkey specific experience with other veterinary practitioners.

Will The Donkey Sanctuary use my vet or farrier?

The Donkey Sanctuary wishes to engage with local service providers such as registered veterinary practitioners, equine dental technicians and farriers whereever possible. We do however reserve the right to seek the services of other professionals particularly where we have agreed to pay for treatment/services.

How much will it cost me for The Donkey Sanctuary staff or external vet/farrier to visit and check my donkeys?

If one of The Donkey Sanctuary staff visits, there is no direct cost to you but you may wish to join our mailing list with a view to supporting the charity now or in the future. Should The Donkey Sanctuary engage a vet, farrier or other person to visit, the responsibility to pay is ours. However, where the owner/keeper of the donkeys can pay some or all of the cost this is very much appreciated - enabling us to reach even more donkeys in need of services.

What if I am not the owner?

If you are not the registered owner but instead are the person responsible for providing care, please make this clear at the time of your enquiry and inform us of the owner’s details, if known, as such would need to give permission for services to be provided.

How can I find out more about the scheme?

You can call our Welfare Department on 022-49013.

I am not on the ANC scheme but I have donkeys that require help, will The Donkey Sanctuary help?

Yes. The scheme is open to all donkey owners/keepers and if we can help we will.

After the castration/veterinary treatment/farrier will there be follow up visits?

Our field staff will want to check that donkeys are well following treatment and to advise on their future care. It is therefore likely that they will call to see the animals again and to talk with the owner/keeper.

Are there repercussions if the donkeys are in poor condition (e.g long feet, underweight, etc)?

The Donkey Sanctuary is not an enforcement agency and our staff see their job as one of helping to improve donkey welfare regardless of the circumstances. Happily, we are usually successful in this without the involvement of regulatory agencies. The scheme provides us a further opportunity to continue to work with cooperative owners/keepers of donkeys in this manner.