Help the Animals at Christmas

Broadcast live on Channel 5 on Friday 21 December, Help the Animals at Christmas saw The Donkey Sanctuary on TV screens across the country - along with the RSPCA, Scottish SPCA, Blue Cross and Wildlife Aid Foundation.

Grant a wish to donkeys in need.


Blackpool beach donkeys in desperate conditions

Through a collaboration with RSPCA and Blackpool Council and the Police, 29 beach donkeys living in torment were seized from a property near Preston. Not only were their living conditions dire - the accumulation of soiled bedding lead to several of the donkeys having painful hoof infections - but their handlers' behaviour towards them induced mental trauma.

CCTV footage used in court showed the donkeys being subjected to physical force, being slapped, punched, kicked, whipped and hit with sticks and pieces of wood. A donkey called Bruce is shown being kicked and punched around his head and sensitive nose area, the defendant using his body weight to deliver powerful and painful blows.

Two of the donkeys' conditions were beyond rescue, and they were put down to save them from further suffering.

Thankfully, the 27 surviving donkeys are now recovering in the safe hands of the sanctuary, where they can be free of fear and pain. Your support enables donkeys like Bruce to live the life they deserve.

Donkeys stood in barn at Preston farm
Preston rescue donkey Bruce relaxing at sanctuary
Preston rescues Floss, Ruby, Willow, Pedro and Blosson
Before and after: donkeys like Bruce (pictured grazing), have been freed from a life of abuse and squalor.

Timmy and Tommy: imprisoned donkeys find freedom at the sanctuary

We found Timmy and Tommy in a pitiful state, having endured months of physical and emotional suffering in conditions of unimaginable squalor.

Tommy was on the point of collapse. He was so thin we could see his bony spine and shoulders, his hooves were severely overgrown, and there were bald patches on his coat. Timmy was in even greater pain as his hooves had been savagely cut by someone who was clearly not a professional farrier. He was trapped in his own stable, and had to be dug out from three feet of his own excrement.

From prison to sanctuary, their transformation has been remarkable. Both donkeys now reside at one of our farms in Devon, and are slowly learning to trust again. Now, thanks to your support, their true personalities are shining through.

Timmy and Tommy standing in a stable before being rescued
Timmy and Tommy after rescue
Timmy and Tommy standing in a field
Timmy and Tommy before and after they were rescued.

Life-changing surgery for a donkey from The Yorkshire Vet

Donkeys in need of medical attention are often much harder to diagnose than horses. Their behavioural responses to pain are subtle in comparison - even lowered ears and head carriage can indicate that something is critically wrong with a donkey's health.

This means that much more complex methods are required to diagnose donkeys' illnesses. Thanks to the help of our supporters, our specially designed hospital was completed in Sidmouth last year, enabling experts in the field of donkey care to diagnose and treat sick and injured animals to the highest standard. Recently, Peter Wright (Channel 5's The Yorkshire Vet) visited our hospital to assist with the removal of a potentially life-threatening sarcoid from donkey Poppy.

"They've got state-of-the-art operating facilities." says Peter. "I've seen laser surgery for the first time, and Poppy seems completely unfazed by it. She's back to normal as far as she's concerned."

Cutting edge equipment, from endoscopes to diode lasers, enable donkeys like Poppy to have as stress-free and effective treatments as possible. With your help, we can continue to provide donkeys with the expert levels of care they deserve.

Georgie getting a check-up at hospital
Dentistry inspection at The Donkey Sanctuary hospital
Jackie in Hospital with Abi
Our veterinary hospital is a centre of excellence for caring for donkeys.

How you can help this Christmas

Zena in bed of straw - black/white
£5 could help pay for a warm straw bed for foals needing specialist care.
Donkeys feeding - black/white
£10 could help feed sick and injured donkeys.
Medical check - black/white
£30 could help fund emergency first aid treatment.
Donkey being led to safety - black/white
£50 could help transport a donkey from dire conditions into safety.