As Farms Equine Assistant, one of my main jobs has been to visit all our potential foster donkeys. I go with a colleague from our welfare team to assess their suitability before putting the donkeys forward to have a thorough medical examination with one of the vets; to ensure they have a perfect bill of health before hopefully joining their new home.
Our welfare team then take time to match donkeys with homes depending on the experience of the potential owners and character, age, size and of course ability of the donkeys. We also look at donkeys living on the farms which the staff on farms feel are suitable for donkey assisted therapy work.
We always send donkeys out in pairs or even 3 or 4s! However this winter we have sent out an increasing number of single donkeys to go and befriend recently bereaved donkeys already in homes. This is always a crucial time for us as donkeys bond so strongly so we always try to ensure that we get a friend out to them as soon as possible.
This year from our 7 farms in and around Devon we have sent out an amazing 169 donkeys to join very kind families in new homes.
We have also sent 19 donkeys to our various donkey assisted therapy centres around the country so that they can learn the ropes to help children with additional needs.
I’d like to share with you some of the beautiful photos which I have received from our welfare officers and from the owners of their new best friends. It is truly an amazing job and I find there is nothing more rewarding for me than seeing the results of all the staff’s hard work involved in getting these animals ready for their new homes and then this is mirrored by the overwhelming reaction from the donkeys' new foster owners when they meet for the first time.
The instant bond that you see between the donkeys and foster owners is very fulfilling as sometimes I am aware of a special bond that has been created between a staff member and donkey; it can be hard for the member of staff to see them go, but with ever increasing numbers of donkeys and mules on our UK farms, we are fortunate in being able to pass on this special friendship knowing this will continue in a loving home.
This is the best we could ask for these remarkable animals.
I would like to thank all the staff involved in our foster scheme and here’s to 2014
Now to work on that stable at home...!