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 term ‘donkeys' includes donkeys, donkey hybrids, horses and ponies unless otherwise stated.

The donkeys

Owing to their propensity to form close bonds of friendship, donkeys are normally sent out in 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 Companion 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 their position prior to receiving a donkey under the Rehoming Scheme.

Mules, horses or ponies may be rehomed individually or as pairs where homes have other mules, horses or ponies. In these cases, if the Guardian wishes to end the Guardian Agreement, only the original animals will return to The Donkey Sanctuary. The ownership of any privately owned donkey hybrids, horses or ponies will not be transferred to The Donkey Sanctuary in these situations. Privately owned donkeys (exclusively) who are found to be bonded to donkeys (exclusively) rehomed by The Donkey Sanctuary will be subject to the details of a Companion Agreement.

Donkeys are not provided as companions to horses or ponies. In circumstances where horses, ponies or other livestock are being cared for at the same premises, it is important that these are separately managed and housed. For more information please see our keeping donkeys with other animals factsheet (PDF).

All locations for rehoming will be considered. However, applications where Guardians are located in a remote location where service provision (e.g. veterinary care) is likely to be difficult may be rejected. The decision will rest with the Head of Welfare GB, Head of Welfare Ireland or the Director of Europe depending on region.


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

Routine visits from members of The Donkey Sanctuary welfare team will be agreed on a regular basis to help ensure the wellbeing of donkeys on the Rehoming Scheme and support the Guardian 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. For more information on the cost of keeping donkeys, please read our information on the costs of owning and keeping a donkey.


All prospective Guardians, together with others who may have responsibility for caring for the donkeys, will be provided with appropriate training from The Donkey Sanctuary 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 donkeys with specific needs. Any considerations identified during the training which may impact on the suitability of a Guardian to rehome donkeys will be discussed and the relevant Donkey Welfare Adviser will be notified to inform rehoming decisions.

Guardians are encouraged to develop their knowledge of donkey care and behaviour by attending more advanced training courses and workshops. Details of available courses can be found in our training centre.

Donkey housing and living environment

The suitability of donkey housing and living environment will be assessed by a Donkey Welfare Adviser during a visit to the premises. This assessment will be based on the general requirements for keeping donkeys as detailed below whilst having regard to the individual needs of specific donkeys and local environmental conditions as appropriate. More information can be found in our Donkey Care Handbook.


Approximately 0.5 acre (2,000 sq metres) of suitable and safe grazing and/or turnout land is recommended for each donkey. Please familiarise yourself with our information on keeping donkeys on small pastures.

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 manmade shelter at all times that is of sufficient size to accommodate all of the donkeys who will be accessing the shelter. The shelter must have a roof and have three solid sides. The design and construction should protect from wind, rain, sun and flies. Please consult our stable management guide for more information.

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

A constant supply of clean drinking water is essential. Further information can be found in our guide to feeding donkeys.


Guardians need to spend sufficient time with the donkeys. This will generally improve the sociability and well-being of the donkeys. A donkey care calendar will help with planning your donkeys' needs in advance.

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 Donkey Welfare Adviser or other sanctuary representative who will make visits to check the donkeys as appropriate but at least once per year. Additionally, Guardians can seek advice on any matter relating to the donkeys by contacting their Donkey Welfare Adviser or the Welfare Department at The Donkey Sanctuary and at its subsidiaries.

The Donkey 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.


As a minimum Guardians must insure rehomed donkeys for third party liability. Insurance for veterinary costs is encouraged.

Events and activities

Donkeys and people benefit from a variety of activities and environments, such as those outlined in our environment enrichment guide. Rehomed donkeys may not, however, be used for commercial purposes or promotional activities generating income.

Participation in other events and activities should not be undertaken 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 the Guardian must provide their Donkey Welfare Adviser with details of the arrangements for veterinary, farriery and dental care.

The Donkey Sanctuary can support the Guardian in finding suitably experienced equine veterinary surgeons, farriers and dental technicians in their 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. 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. Further information on hoof care can be found in our donkey hoof care guide.

Parasite tests and treatment to be in accordance with guidelines from the attending equine veterinary surgeon. Information on controlling lice and advice on worming your donkey can be found on our website.

Vaccinations against flu and tetanus must be maintained in line with current advice from The Donkey Sanctuary. In times of disease outbreak frequency may increase to offer the best level of protection to donkeys. It is recommended that when the equine veterinary surgeon attends to vaccinate the donkeys that a routine health check is carried out. Additional information on equine flu in donkeys and advice on protecting your donkeys from tetanus can be found on our website.

A minimum of an annual dental check is to be carried out by a BEVA/BAEDT qualified equine dental technician or an equine 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 Welfare Adviser so that the donkey’s record can be updated. A guide to looking after your donkey's teeth can be found on our website.

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

Death of a donkey

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

The Donkey 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. The cost for euthanasia and disposal (basic cremation costs only) will be met by The Donkey Sanctuary. Disposal of the body should be discussed with the attending veterinary surgeon and arranged in compliance with any local legislation that applies. The Donkey Sanctuary can offer advice if required.

Our website contains information on euthanasia and dealing with death.


It is a legal requirement that an identification passport must be kept for every donkey. All donkeys rehomed by The Donkey Sanctuary will be signed out of the food chain and identified as such in their passport.

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. In the event of a donkey returning to The Donkey Sanctuary, the passport must also be returned. Following the death of a donkey the passport must be returned to The Donkey Sanctuary, except in countries where local legislative procedures apply. Your Donkey Welfare Adviser will be able to offer advice in these circumstances.

The passport must be available to a Donkey 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 Guardians 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.

(Revised: October 2020)