"It's just brilliant how Justin's come on since his visits to the donkeys."
Justin rides high
When Justin started coming to our Donkey Assisted Therapy Centre in Ivybridge, aged three, he was extremely anxious about every new experience and his reaction was to be constantly sick. For Justin, this distressing behaviour was a way of communicating and controlling his environment. For his parents, it was very upsetting and made it almost impossible to leave the house.
It's just brilliant how Justin's come on since his visits to the donkeys.
Justin started attending the Centre with his school and his teacher, Tracey Nagle, explained: "At the time, Justin wasn't eating solid foods or walking. He was extremely anxious about new experiences and his only way of communicating his anxiety was by screaming and being physically sick. He would be sick if someone he didn't know entered the classroom, and it took a long while to help Justin overcome his fears of the bus ride to the centre, meeting the donkeys and ultimately riding in the arena."
A new beginning
Now Justin, aged 6, is all smiles when he arrives and he really looks forward to his donkey assisted therapy sessions.
It's just brilliant how Justin's come on since his visits to the donkeys
Justin's mum tells us that he has a fear of dogs and many other animals, but he loves the donkeys and gets very excited about going along to the Centre and really enjoys riding the donkeys.
Our unique environment, the patient staff and the gentle donkeys helped Justin deal with lots of new experiences. Tracey continued: "He began to look forward to the positive experiences and fun activities of the centre and Justin's world slowly began to open up in front of him."
Our riding instructor Sara Mears added: "If Justin was ever sick or screaming, the donkeys were calm, non judgemental, soothing and quiet; just there... steady. They carried on with no drama and no fear, staying steady and reliable. They really helped Justin forget about his behaviour and now he is the happiest little chap ever when he's visiting."
How you can help us
Here at The Donkey Sanctuary we give life-long care and love to donkeys that have nowhere left to turn.
- Donating £5 today can rescue abandoned and neglected donkeys just like Laurel and Hardy from terrible conditions by helping to keep our emergency rescue vehicles on the road.
- Donating £16 today can give two abandoned donkeys the nutrition they need to start their recovery to good health. Many of the donkeys we rescue are malnourished and underweight and need a carefully managed diet to help them build up their strength and set them on the road to recovery.
- Donating £30 today can give an abandoned donkey relief from painful hooves. Donkeys’ hooves need to be checked and trimmed regularly by the farrier to ensure they are in good condition and free from pain.
- Donating £40 today can provide rescued donkeys with comfort from painful teeth. Many abandoned donkeys suffer with poor teeth, making it difficult for them to eat and stay healthy. A visit to the equine dentist can turn their lives around, enabling them to eat in comfort.
- The Donkey Sanctuary was founded in 1969 by Dr Elisabeth Svendsen. Sadly, she passed away in 2011 but her memory lives on in our work, as does her eternal motto that, in everything we do, donkeys will always come first, second and third.
- The Donkey Sanctuary’s vision is a world where donkeys live free from suffering and their contribution to humanity is fully valued.
- There is estimated to be 50 million donkeys in the world. By 2018 we aim to double our reach to two million donkeys in 40 countries.
- Our aims include: never to turn away from donkey and mules in need and to provide lifelong care for them in the UK and Ireland; to reduce the suffering of domestic and working donkeys due to neglect, ill-treatment, illness, ignorance and injury; and to improve the lives of both donkeys and people through positive human donkey interactions.
- We currently work in 34 countries worldwide through major projects and collaborations. These projects mean we were in reach of 1.6million donkeys, and we directly treated almost a quarter of a million donkeys and mules in 2015.
- Since commencement of the charity in 1969 over 18,800 donkeys and mules have been provided with a sanctuary for life. 6,600 donkeys and mules are currently in our care at our sanctuaries, holding bases and through our Rehoming Scheme in the UK, Ireland and Europe. This includes the 960 donkeys and mules we rescued in 2015.
- We seek to analyse, understand and respond to emerging donkey welfare problems and to advocate on behalf of donkeys and bring their welfare issues to the forefront - at local, national and international levels.
- In our efforts to reach the world’s population of donkeys and mules, we work hard to impart our knowledge on the care and welfare of donkeys through training and education programmes.
- The Donkey Sanctuary is a registered charity and we rely entirely on donations and legacy gifts to fulfil our worldwide work with donkeys and mules. You can help the Sanctuary today by donating, fundraising, volunteering, adopting and rehoming.
- Our Sanctuary in Sidmouth, Devon, is our international headquarters and is open to the public 365 days a year.