80p out of every £1 goes directly on donkey welfare and care
Cold, damp, miserable. Three adjectives that perfectly described the day when I was called in to help the plight of a small stallion donkey and some other equines. I arrived at the site and looked out on rolling fields, as far as the eye could see there was just mud, no longer any grass, just churned up mud. Loose strands of barbed wire pretended to be some kind of boundary amongst the rusting heaps of metal, rubbish and debris that constituted the squalor that these animals were forced to live in.
Last month I was lucky enough to be working from our Devon Sanctuary at the same time as the Carols by Candlelight service. I joined colleagues and friends to experience my first Candlelight service since joining The Donkey Sanctuary 18 months ago. The atmosphere was magical and, as you would expect, one of the most popular songs of the evening was ‘Little Donkey’ which tells of the long dusty journey to Bethlehem.
Christmas is always a very busy time for all of our donkey assisted therapy centres and particularly so for the Outreach team. Here at Sidmouth we increase the amount of visits we make, from three days a week to five, for the whole of November and December. Our donkey interaction visits are very popular all throughout the year and even more so in the festive season, when there is certainly something magical about having a visit from a Christmas donkey.
Donkeys are known for their stoicism, which means they don’t always tell us how poorly they are. But when you’ve known a donkey for as long as we’ve known 24 year old William D, you soon get to understand the signs that all is not right. This week we have had to make the most painful and heartbreaking of decisions for this kind and loving donkey who was one of Donkey Sanctuary Leeds’ founding members.
Here in Birmingham, our staff have been pleased with the results from trialling a new type of enrichment with the 21 donkeys who live at the Centre in Sutton Park. The donkeys were given paprika, scattered around the field, to smell and sniff – resulting in a host of positive behaviours. In order to find out what other new and interesting scents pique the donkeys’ interest, the staff having been trying the same technique with a variety of other herbs and spices… and the results were interesting indeed!