If you are a donkey owner or Donkey Guardian worried about caring for your animals during the Covid-19 outbreak, we are still here for you.

The impact of the coronavirus continues to be felt by many communities around the world. Governments and health authorities are the best sources of advice on measures people should take to reduce transmission and risk of infection in their areas.

As restrictions are eased guidance may vary between nations so it is important that you refer to guidance relevant to your local area.

Our welfare team is still on hand to offer support and guidance and are returning to more normal ways of working. We have also developed a variety of digital solutions to help us stay connected with donkey owners and provide support remotely where appropriate to do so.

You can email our welfare team or contact them on 01395 578222 if you want to discuss any aspects of your donkey’s care.

General advice

Continue to interact with your donkeys as normal. Spending time with your donkeys is important for their welfare and can be good for yours too.

Apply good hygiene and biosecurity practices including washing hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after touching your animals.

Wear gloves or wash hands thoroughly before and after handling tools and equipment. This is particularly important where there is shared use e.g. wheelbarrows, field gates.

Ask any visitors to follow good hygiene measures. This includes your vet, farrier, equine dental technician and other professionals.

Plan ahead

It is always important to have plans in place in case you become ill or need to self-isolate at short notice.

By creating a care plan for your donkeys in advance, you can ensure that those caring for your donkeys know what to do and who to contact in an emergency.

  • Make sure instructions are clear and easy to follow
  • Short videos are great to explain where items are kept, how to open gates or show much to feed
  • Ensure that contact details for vet, farrier and insurance company are easy to find
  • Consider adapting your donkeys’ usual routine so their management is realistic for those who may need to care for them when you are unable to do so
  • Have enough bedding, forage and other supplies to last 2 weeks
  • Check current supplies of essential medication and speak to your veterinary practice to ensure requests for repeat prescriptions are made in good time
  • Think creatively about how you can monitor your donkeys remotely – we have seen novel use of CCTV cameras and other monitoring equipment · Consider additional enrichment opportunities which will help keep your donkeys occupied
  • Speak to our welfare team if you have any concerns or worries they may be able to help with your planning.

If you become ill or need to self-isolate

Remember it is important to look after your own health and wellbeing.

Carefully consider if you are well enough to care for your donkeys yourself or if you need to put your care plan into action.

If you need to arrange for another person to care for donkeys at your address it is important that they can access the donkeys without meeting anyone who is unwell or self-isolating.

Inform your local health protection team that you have pets at home. They will inform the relevant animal health authorities. Given their limited resources it is unlikely they will be able to provide practical help, so you will likely need to arrange for another person to care for donkeys.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What do I do if my donkeys are not kept at home?

A: When caring for your donkeys it is important to comply with all other government advice, especially around social distancing and hygiene practices.

Action: It is important to develop contingency plans in case there is a change in your own circumstances. The advice in the guidance above may help you do this. Consider friends or family who may be able to care for your donkeys if you are unable to. Contact other donkey, horse or pony owners in the local area and develop shared contingency plans and share emergency contact details.

Q: Is the advice different depending on where I live in Great Britain?

A: As restrictions are eased guidance may vary between nations so it is important that you refer to guidance relevant to your local area.

Q: How will the restriction on non-essential travel impact on my vet and other professionals?

A: Vets and other professionals such as farriers and equine dentistry technicians have continued to provide treatment in an emergency thorough the pandemic. Many of these services are returning more routine ways of working following guidance from official bodies such as The British Equine Veterinary Association and Farriers' Registration Council.

Your vet may continue to follow strict hygiene measures to keep you and their teams as safe as possible and may use of telemedicine in replacement of physical visits where appropriate.

If you do need to contact your vet, it helps to be prepared. The British Equine Veterinary Association have produced a series of videos to help owners prepare to answer some of the questions your vet may ask you during a video call.

Action: Look out for any updates from your own vet and other professionals on their latest way of working. Follow any advice they give in relation to non-urgent cases. Create a ‘care plan’ for your donkeys, outlining their daily routine and ensure your vet and other emergency contact details are included. Knowing what is normal for your donkey when they are healthy will help spot when they are unwell, so include their normal temperature, breathing and heart rate if you know them. This information will be particularly important if someone else needs to care for your donkeys for any reason.

Q: What do I do if I can no longer keep my donkeys?

A: The Donkey Sanctuary, like many other equine charities, receives a large number of calls every month from owners seeking alternative future care solutions for their donkeys. We are currently caring for 7000 donkeys across our sanctuary sites in the UK and Europe. Many of our resident donkeys have complex needs and require lifelong support. Space in sanctuary care is at a premium and reserved for those most in need of specialist care.

Our welfare team will be happy to discuss future care solutions and alternative rehoming options with you. The National Equine Welfare Council also recently published advice on responsible rehoming which you may find helpful.

Action: If you are a Guardian with donkeys via our rehoming scheme please contact your Donkey Welfare Adviser or contact our Welfare Office.

Q: What do I do if I can no longer afford to care for my donkeys?

A: We understand that in these unprecedented times many people are facing significant and unexpected changes to their normal lifestyles. Financial uncertainty will no doubt be a source of worry and present challenges for many donkey owners and equine charities alike.

Our welfare team will be happy to discuss your current situation and offer support and offer advice or suggestions which may help reduce the costs of caring for your donkeys. The National Equine Welfare Council also recently published advice on how to cut costs not care which you may find helpful.

If you are a Guardian with donkeys via our rehoming scheme please contact your Donkey Welfare Adviser or contact our Welfare Office.

Action: The Government are continually updating their advice and support packages which will be available to businesses and families as we navigate through the current crisis. Keep up to date with this advice and find out what support is available to you. Contact our welfare team for further advice and to discuss future care solutions for your donkeys.

Do you need assistance?

Our welfare team can help if you have concerns or questions about caring for your donkeys.