For some donkeys that come into our care, our promise to provide "sanctuary for life" can be found through our Rehoming Scheme. We find out more about the specialist Rehoming Units in Sidmouth, built to ensure donkeys are fully prepared to begin a fresh start with their new family.

To help more of our herds prepare for life after sanctuary, a ‘finishing school for donkeys’ has been built - and the first students are already taking great strides.

The new Rehoming Unit – which opened in December - consists of three shelters, housing around 12 donkeys each. Specialist training and exposure to new experiences are enabling donkeys like Gill and Maggie (pictured below) to be primed for graduation into their new Guardian home.

Kerry Layton-Hill, Rehoming Unit Supervisor, says: “It’s a bit of a finishing school for donkeys; we will expose them to things that they would be in a home and we can tailor the training to the home’s needs too. We help the donkeys grow in confidence and get more one-to-one care which also frees up space on our farms.”

Most donkeys would be suitable for rehoming at some point in their life, though they have to pass a certain set of criteria to make the grade. Grooms look at the fitness, health, behaviour and experience of donkeys to ascertain whether they are ready for a home.

Donkeys at the units are exposed to new experiences from walking on tracks by noisy roads to meeting people wearing a scarf or carrying an umbrella – seemingly trivial yet potentially unnerving things they won’t have come across during farm life at the sanctuary.

While rehoming may not be the best option for all donkeys, space in sanctuary is at a premium and is vital for those donkeys most in need of specialist care. Our Rehoming Scheme provides those suitable donkeys the opportunity to live happy and fulfilled lives in a loving home.

“We can tailor the training to the home’s needs,” adds Kerry. “We have Bill and Ben who are very playful characters and into everything; if you have a grooming kit out they will have the brush out and run off with things.

“On the other hand we have got Gill and Maggie who are much calmer and ask for your attention a lot more gently than Bill and Ben.

“As a groom it’s brilliant to see the donkeys come from being a little nervous to gaining confidence and becoming really friendly before going out to a home – it’s just amazing.”

Help donkeys start a new chapter