Two-thirds of our work is made possible through the incredible generosity of those who leave a gift in their will.

Donkeys add value to the lives of so many across the globe. Supporting individual families, communities and even industries, donkeys play an important role in transforming lives and livelihoods. Here, we reflect on three stories where the amazing kindness of those who left a gift in their will, whether large or small, enabled us to be ready and prepared to support donkeys across the globe in their time of need.

The road to reunion

We were alerted to the plight of a ‘jailed’ donkey in Mexico. The eight-year-old donkey, owned by a couple in rural Oaxaca, is well and truly part of their family. Living several hours away from the nearest city, the donkey is integral to their lives life, helping with essential tasks like collecting firewood.

The couple were enormously distressed to discover that their beloved donkey was missing and had been seized and locked behind bars without food or water.

Over 5,500 miles away at our headquarters in Devon, we began formulating a rapid and coordinated effort to intervene. An investigation ensued and we learned that the local municipality had seized the donkey after reports that he had damaged a neighbour’s crops. The Donkey Sanctuary Mexico’s Oaxaca-based vet, Jaime, made his way to the municipality agency with a team of vets from the Autonomous University Benito Juarez of Oaxaca to undertake a health and welfare assessment on the donkey.

After ascertaining that the donkey was no longer being held in the ‘jail’ without food and water, and showed no wounds or signs of disease, Jaime, the donkey’s owners and the municipal agent were able to negotiate the donkey’s safe delivery back home.

Jaime accompanied the donkey on his journey back to his owners and watched the happy reunion between the three.

Welfare, brick by brick

Across South Asia donkeys and mules play a pivotal role in the brick industry, transporting unfired bricks to kilns and finished bricks to their final destination. The income they generate often represents their owner’s main source of revenue for the year, highlighting the economic importance of donkey ownership.

In Nepal, we work alongside Animal Nepal, one of our charity partners, and fund welfare programmes and safer infrastructure for brick kiln donkeys and their owners. Guidance from vets and education officers have led to massive improvements at kilns where we have managed to reach owners, but there is still much work to be done.

The donkeys touched by welfare programmes enjoy a far better quality of life and benefit from a nurturing relationship with their owner. In 2018 we visited Arman Ali Kasgar, winner of Animal Nepal’s annual Best Equine Owner Awards, a scheme introduced to incentivise good animal welfare practices.

Arman’s animals enjoy safe and clean shelter, nutritious meals and plenty of enrichment time at the end of the day, highlighting the positive outcomes of increased welfare education within the brick kiln industry.

In times of need

We received an urgent request from an Australian sanctuary struggling to keep food in the troughs of rescued donkeys in the wake of a drought left behind by devastating bushfires and knew we had to help them in their time of need.

The Australian sanctuary’s onsite water catchment dam had run dry, and they were having to truck in 11,000 litres of water twice a week for the donkeys. But not only did they need water for the animals, they also needed spare water to put out fires should one start near them - an unsettling thought, given that the last substantial rains had been months previously.

Thanks to the incredible kindness of those who left a gift in their will, we were able to make a one off £10,000 donation and helped fund the purchase of a 21-ton delivery of barley straw to help protect against any price rises for feed and help ensure that the donkeys had a stable supply through an unprecedented time of natural crisis.

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