I was very lucky to be able to visit our Sanctuary in Northern Italy, Il Rifugio degli Asinelli, recently.
The Sanctuary is in an area which seems to belong on a film set, beautiful trees and lush green open spaces but most impressive of all, it is set under of the most majestic foothills of the Alps. Il Rifugio is home to 150 rescued donkeys and mules. I met number of the staff and of course the gorgeous long eared residents who all made me feel very welcome; I would have stayed permanently if allowed!
Rachele Totaro, PR Assistant, kindly agreed to be interviewed by me:
Do you think the Sanctuary has made a difference to the donkeys and mules in Italy? What is the local opinion of you there? And do they view donkeys differently now?
Yes, I’m sure we did. Before the Sanctuary was established, there were many prejudices about donkeys: they ignored the bad conditions, welfare issues and problems connected to donkeys as well as other animals. We showed people that there are many donkeys in Italy that need better treatment, and that there is much more to know about donkeys and their care. Every time we tell a story, we try to raise more awareness about donkeys’ needs, but also about their behaviour, attitudes and personality.
Before the Sanctuary was founded, if someone discovered a donkey in need they wouldn’t have known who to ask for help; the same for many donkeys’ owners. In Italy there are only a few of Vets who specialise in donkeys’ care, so seeking advice was very difficult. Now, we are here to help donkeys and everyone dealing with them, with our welfare team, free professional support and training courses, all provided by people who care and are taught by the priceless school of The Donkey Sanctuary!
What do you feel is good for the donkeys and mules you have on the farm?
Finally they can live a happy life with their companions, without a care about food or bad weather as we take care of them. They play and run all day long, surrounded by love from staff and visitors. Sometimes, when they first arrive they’re nervous; they see humans as a threat, or a danger. With a lot of care and patience, we make them forget their past; and there’s nothing better and more emotional than seeing them with a new lease of life.