Compassion, Creativity and Collaboration are the core values of The Donkey Sanctuary. These values are at the heart of everything we do and underpin our approaches when working towards better welfare for donkeys and mules worldwide.
Here in Great Britain, our team of Donkey Welfare Advisers work hard within their communities to support owners, educate people and bring about change for donkeys in a variety of circumstances and often challenging situations.
That may sound daunting but we are not alone, we rely on everyone at The Donkey Sanctuary to enable us to do what we do. From fundraisers to farriers; lorry drivers to dentists; vets to vital office support, every role is important in ensuring the Sanctuary runs smoothly which enables us to get out there and make a difference to donkeys in need.
There are also times when we need to work closely with other agencies such as welfare organisations, councils or police, to ensure the best welfare outcome can be achieved.
You don’t have to look far to see how these values shine through our work in practice but I wanted to share with you a story where ‘Collaboration’ really was the key to creating change for donkeys in need….
Introducing Maddy, Benji, Justin and Blue. This gorgeous group of donkeys came into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary last year and they are now enjoying sanctuary life on one of our farms in Sidmouth. Sounds simple doesn’t it? But there were many people involved in making their journey to Devon possible.
Back in December 2015 I was asked if I could support a local authority inspector who had some concerns for the welfare of four donkeys.I went along on the visit and was introduced to the donkeys and their owner. I soon noticed that the donkeys had overgrown hooves which were in desperate need of farriery care.
Maddy’s front hooves in particular were so long and misshapen that they were affecting her ability to walk normally. Donkeys, just like horses, require regular farrier care to ensure their hooves are healthy and kept in shape. Unfortunately not all donkeys have had appropriate handling from an early age which can lead to them being nervous and frightened especially in situations that are not familiar.
These donkeys were purchased from the local livestock market and were virtually unhandled when they arrived.Their owners had managed to get the donkeys used to wearing a head collar but gaining their trust was a slow process. After talking things through with the owners it was agreed that the donkeys would come into the care of the Sanctuary.
Working with a vet, a plan was formed for the donkeys to be admitted to a veterinary hospital where the necessary treatment and tests could be provided safely. With housing arrangements in place the next step was how to get them there – thankfully for me, staff at the local Donkey Assisted Interaction Centre were on hand to help out. At short notice, two transporters were mobilised and on their way to us, leaving me some time to make friends with the donkeys before they took the first brave steps on the path to their new life.
It is fair to say the donkeys were not sure about the lorry, the ramp, the journey to the vet or the stable at the other end, but with a lot of patience and some tasty treats, all four were safely delivered to their temporary accommodation.
Over the next week they had a full MOT including X-rays, farrier care, dental treatment, vaccinations, and of course, castrations for the boys. After their makeovers they were transported to a temporary holding base for a bit of R&R, good grub and a comfy bed.
The donkeys enjoyed a couple of weeks adjusting to their new surroundings before the grooms began building their confidence, getting them used to being handled and picking their feet up. After six weeks the farrier was due again. I could sense the feeling of relief and pride when their groom told me that the hard work had paid off, while Justin still needed a little persuading, the other donkeys stood for the farrier and were as good as gold. Quite an achievement!
Then early one February morning, another lorry arrived – this time it was Mark, one of The Donkey Sanctuary drivers, he had come to collect them for the final leg of their journey – to Devon. The donkeys did themselves and the staff proud, confidently walking up the ramp on to the lorry, leaving their past behind them.
Knowing these donkeys have a secure future to live the rest of their lives under the watchful eye of the Sanctuary staff, vets, farriers and grooms, is what this job is all about.
Of course none of this would be possible without the generosity of our supporters whose donations, kind words and support enable us to do what we do - thank you!
PS - Maddy was already in foal when she was relinquished to us so has been placed in a special group for pregnant mares. She will soon be expecting a pitter patter of tiny hooves so watch this space!