The Donkey Sanctuary’s teams in India witness first-hand how valuable donkeys are to their owners, and the bond that develops between human and animal.
Many donkeys in India work long hours on building sites to help their owners earn a basic living. Donkeys and their owners work side-by-side for as long as ten hours a day carrying heavy loads of sand, bricks and other building materials for as little as 70 rupees in wages, approximately £1. The working day often begins at 4am when the air is cooler, to avoid the intense heat of the afternoon sun.
One owner whose donkey, named Chintu, carries building materials on a site in the Gurgaon region, told the team that Chintu was ‘like a brother’ to him. The team observed that at the end of the day’s work, after an hour-long journey back to the family home (a small tent made out of sticks and cloth, built on wasteland in the shadow of an imposing, luxury tower block), Chintu’s owner cycled off to get a sack of grass for Chintu and his other two donkeys, making sure that all members of the family – donkeys and humans – could eat together. Chintu’s labour had ensured that the owner, his wife and six children, could afford to eat.
The Donkey Sanctuary offers support, training and treatment to make the lives of hard working donkeys and their owners that little bit easier. In 2011 alone, the charity’s teams and mobile clinics in India helped 23,635 working donkeys and mules, and continue to provide all-year-round community education, veterinary treatments and improvement of harness, helping thousands of donkeys like Chintu.