These terms and conditions are necessary to ensure the well-being of the donkeys that are being cared for as part of The Donkey Sanctuary Rehoming Scheme.

Thank you for considering becoming a Donkey Guardian and rehoming donkeys* from our charity.

It should also be noted that these Terms and Conditions form part of the Rehoming Scheme Agreement.

The donkeys

Owing to their propensity to form close bonds of friendship, donkeys are normally sent out as pairs or small groups.

Subject to current availability, there is provision for the placement of a single donkey as a companion to a privately owned donkey. In such circumstances there is a requirement for Guardian applicants to sign a 'companions agreement' to ensure the ongoing health and well-being of rehomed donkeys. This will be subject to a ‘cooling off’ period of 21 days to allow the Guardian to reconsider his or her position prior to receiving a donkey under the Rehoming Scheme.

Mules and ponies may be rehomed individually or as pairs where homes have other mules or ponies on the understanding that only the original animals will be able to return to The Donkey Sanctuary should the Guardian wish to cease rehoming. The ownership of any privately owned animals will not be transferred to The Donkey Sanctuary in these situations. Regrettably this option is not open to homes with privately owned donkeys.

Donkeys are not provided as companions to horses or ponies. In circumstances where horses and/or ponies are being cared for at the same premises, it is important that these are separately managed and housed.

All locations for homes will be considered. However, homes located in a remote location where service provision (for example, veterinary care) is likely to be difficult may be rejected. The decision will rest with the Head of Welfare.


The donkeys in the Rehoming Scheme remain the property of The Donkey Sanctuary.

Routine visits from members of The Donkey Sanctuary welfare team will be agreed on a regular basis to help ensure the well-being of donkeys on the Rehoming Scheme and support the home.

The Donkey Sanctuary retains the right to remove donkeys from a Guardian if, in the view of The Donkey Sanctuary, it is necessary to do so.


All costs relating to the donkeys including feed, bedding, dental, farriery and other veterinary care will be the responsibility of the Guardian.


All prospective Guardians, together with others who may have responsibility for caring for the donkeys, are invited to attend a Donkey Care Induction Day in order to familiarise themselves with best practice in donkey care prior to the arrival of the donkeys.

Specific training will be organised for those considering rehoming mules.

Guardians will be invited to develop their knowledge of donkey care and behaviour by attending more advanced training courses and workshops.


Approximately 0.5 acre (2,000 sq metres) of suitable and safe grazing and/or turnout land is recommended for each donkey.

External perimeter fencing must be permanent, secure and well maintained.

Poisonous plants, shrubs and trees to be removed or fenced off as appropriate. Fruit trees may have to be fenced off in season.

Stable or shelter

The donkeys must have access to permanent shelter at all times that is of sufficient size to accommodate all of the animals. The design and construction should protect from wind, rain, sun and flies.

A suitable hard standing is necessary inside and at the entrance of the shelter.

A constant supply of clean drinking water is essential.


Guardians need to spend sufficient time with the donkeys. This will generally improve the sociability and well-being of the donkeys.

Donkeys should be checked twice daily. The daily routine should include picking out feet, grooming and mucking out stables.

On-going support to Guardians is provided by a Welfare Adviser or other sanctuary representative who will make visits to check the donkeys as appropriate. Additionally, advice on any matter relating to the donkeys can be obtained by contacting the Welfare Adviser or the Welfare Department at The Donkey Sanctuary.

The Welfare Adviser must be informed of any changes in circumstances that may have an affect on the welfare of the donkeys.

No breeding is permitted.

In the unlikely event of a foal being born to a rehomed donkey the foal shall be owned by The Donkey Sanctuary who will determine the most appropriate arrangements for the foal’s future well-being.

Appropriate third party insurance will be required. Advice is available from the Welfare Department.

Donkeys and people benefit from a variety of activities and environments. However, donkeys may not be used for commercial or promotional activities without prior consent of The Donkey Sanctuary. Guardians should also check that the proposed activity is covered under the terms of their insurance policy.

Health care

Prior to delivery of the donkeys, details will be provided to the Welfare Adviser by the Guardian of proposed arrangements in respect of veterinary, farriery and dental care of the donkeys.

The Donkey Sanctuary will provide details of local ‘Donkey Friendly Vets’ to Guardians and can also provide details of recommended farriers and dental technicians in the local area.

Donkeys’ hooves must be trimmed regularly by a qualified farrier, registered with the appropriate national organisation*. This will normally be at intervals of 6-10 weeks.

Parasite tests and treatment to be in accordance with guidelines from the attending veterinary surgeon.

Vaccinations against flu (annually) and tetanus (every other year) must be maintained, it is recommended that when the vet attends to vaccinate the donkeys that a routine health check is carried out.

A minimum of one annual dental check is to be carried out by a BEVA/BAEDT qualified equine dental technician or a veterinary surgeon. Where treatment and further checks are recommended this must be adhered to. A dental chart should be obtained following each examination and treatment, and a copy sent to The Donkey Sanctuary so that the animal’s record can be updated. This should be shown to the Welfare Adviser, if requested.

If a donkey becomes ill or suffers serious injury the Guardian should ask a veterinary surgeon to attend. The Welfare Adviser should be informed whenever the vet is called (other than for routine care).

* In countries where there is no national registration body for farriers, a hoof trimmer with experience of donkeys and who holds relevant insurance should be employed.

Death of a donkey

When a donkey dies or is euthanased it is important that the Welfare Adviser is notified at the soonest opportunity.

The Welfare Adviser will discuss with the Guardian the most appropriate course of action to be followed regarding any remaining donkeys. Where a new companion is provided by The Donkey Sanctuary it should be compatible with the existing donkey.

Under certain circumstances a post mortem may be required. This will be requested only following consultation between the attending veterinary surgeon and a veterinary surgeon from The Donkey Sanctuary.

Euthanasia must be carried out by a veterinary surgeon and the cost for euthanasia will be met by The Donkey Sanctuary. Disposal of the body should be discussed with the attending veterinary surgeon and The Donkey Sanctuary can offer advice if required.


It is a legal requirement that an identification passport must be kept for every donkey.

The passport will be provided by The Donkey Sanctuary and must accompany the donkey to which it refers when relocated under the Rehoming Scheme. The Guardian is responsible for the safe keeping of the passport and may be liable for replacement costs if lost or damaged. It must be returned to The Donkey Sanctuary when the donkey dies or is returned to The Donkey Sanctuary.

The passport must be available to a Welfare Adviser, attending veterinary surgeon or a local authority enforcement officer upon request.

Guardians are advised that, in the event of donkeys being moved for any reason (however temporary) from the place where they are normally kept, the Guardian and/or transporter must ensure that the passports are available for inspection either during the journey or at the new location. Guardians must inform The Donkey Sanctuary of any movement of donkeys that involves an overnight stay and if not permanent the expected date the donkeys will be returned to their normal accommodation.

Please do not hesitate to seek advice from The Donkey Sanctuary Welfare Department for clarification or explanation of any aspect of the Rehoming Scheme.

* The Rehoming Scheme also includes mules and ponies - the term “donkeys” includes these animals unless otherwise stated.

(Revised: October 2016)