Retired working donkeys, mules and horses on the Greek island of Santorini are staying warm and dry this winter thanks to the generosity of international animal welfare charity The Donkey Sanctuary.
The animals are all in the care of the Santorini Animal Welfare Association (SAWA) after being retired from work or abandoned by their former owners, but concerns were raised about keeping them warm and dry over the winter months as the charity had nowhere for them to shelter from the weather.
In response, The Donkey Sanctuary pledged to send a number of smaller donkey rugs not currently in use out to SAWA to help with the problem, and a further eight rugs were donated for the larger donkeys and mules.
Christina Kaloudi at SAWA explains why the rugs were needed:
“We are so grateful for the rugs as it has proved to be a very cold and rainy winter and I am sure we would have had casualties as we do not have indoors premises. At the moment we have 3 donkeys, 7 mules and 2 horses all retired from their long working days at the Bay of Fira or abandoned due to injury or lack to sustain them. Canella, Esperanza and Jasper (two mules and a donkey) suffer from severe arthritis and joint injuries so they in particular really needed to keep warm and dry... What amazed us most is how easily they got used to the rugs that they all wore for the first time in their lives! We thank you all at The Donkey Sanctuary for remembering our small island... and we wish that 2012 will bring more proper owners and less pain to the animals!”
Andrew Judge, The Donkey Sanctuary’s Head of European Operations, explains the charity’s connection with Santorini:
“The Donkey Sanctuary has been working on the island of Santorini since 2006, when our late founder, Dr Elisabeth Svendsen, began campaigning for better conditions for donkeys and mules working as tourist taxis, and for the establishment of a cable car as an alternative means of transport.
“After years of campaigning, and working closely with SAWA and the local authorities, we established a code of practice setting out acceptable standards of animal welfare and ensuring that only animals fit enough to work are allowed to do so. These donkeys and mules have had an incredibly hard working life and need a great deal of special care in their retirement. The donated rugs will help ensure that they can enjoy a warm and dry retirement and well-deserved rest.”
The Donkey Sanctuary continues to urge visitors to the island to keep a close eye on the condition of donkeys and mules, and only ride a tourist taxi once they have considered the following:
• Water, Food, Rest – is it obvious the animals have these?
• Weight – are you too heavy (suggested comfortable weight guidelines are 50kilos for a donkey, 80kilos for a mule)?
• Tack – is it in good condition?
• Visitors are being asked to send information – along with photographs and video, if possible – if they have any concerns about the condition of donkey or mules on the island.
For more information about SAWA’s resident donkeys, mules and horses, please visit http://www.sawasantorini.org.