We are very happy and grateful to once again be the recipients of a matching donation challenge. This could not have come at a better time for us. I think due to the fact that winter will not be far away, we have started to get a lot of calls about animals needing to be surrendered. This means we will need more resources to ensure having enough hay on hand. We have every animal that comes in seen by a veterinarian which can and does quickly turn in to a large bill. We will need all the help we can get!
Every donation made between now and November 1, 2018 will be matched dollar for dollar up to $5,000.00!
By taking advantage of this incredibly generous offer you can double the impact of your donation. Doing so will help every donkey, mule, and hinny we care for.
We are so blown away by this act of incredible generosity by donors who wish to remain anonymous.
Thank you for saving the last group of Texas kids. At the bottom of the page you will see a bit of what we are facing with their rehab.
HOWEVER, once again we received a call asking for help. The above kids are some of the ones we were asked to save. (We won’t know for sure which ones we will be able to save until we have the funds to secure them. But if one is already safe, we will save another one)
As Matt is going to be a third of the way there when he delivers the next group of horses to their new homes, this would be the time to save some more lives.
We wanted to give everyone a chance to save these beautiful souls from the slaughterhouse floor and to help save more lives. We are more than willing to “git ‘er done” as long as we can raise enough funds to make it happen.
There is a heavily bred mare, a beautiful branded mustang mare, donkeys, injured kids etc.They all need our help and as always, time is of the essence.
I am heading for surgery on Monday, but it should be an outpatient type of thing, (just replacing my generator), and Matt is ready and willing to go get these kids when he delivers the other 6 to their new homes.
As always, it all depends on you. We will keep doing the work if we have the funds to do so. Out of the last 9, 6 are heading to their forever homes. As you can see by the pictures below, there are 3 who need intensive care and they will remain at Chilly Pepper for the time being. BOTH of the mare’s front hooves are in horrific shape, and she will need major care. Our beautiful Princess Sahreena was emaciated and she will need lots of love and care. She also came in with some pretty gnarly injuries, but they are healing well.
Please help us save the “new kids”. We are looking at about $6000 plus to hopefully save 9? more lives, including transportation, rescue and vetting to get them home.
Again, this is not our “normal rescue”, but since Matt is already headed that way, we got the call, and the timing is perfect to combine the two, we are definitely willing to go the extra mile if you want to save these kids and keep them off the slaughter truck.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO KEEP HELPING US SAVE MORE LIVES, YOU CAN GO TO:
These two donkeys are simply adorable and at first glance they look very happy and well cared for. They came from a hoarding situation. SYA has been able to help their owner by taking in donkeys from her as she was emotionally able to part with them over the last five years or so. There is no doubt that she loved them all dearly. The woman is in her eighties and in poor health. I am not sure of how long it’s been since she has been able to go outside as she is wheelchair bound, let alone to do anything with or for the donkeys. These two beautiful cousins had been living in a filthy barn/stall/paddock area. Their manure had not been cleaned in years. The only water they had available to them was about six inches of green, thick scummy soup, and full of rotting leaves. Their hooves look ok in this picture, but several have major flares, and one has part of a hoof wall missing. In fairness to their owner, she did have someone in to “care” for the donkeys but was obviously unable to check and see how the donkeys were faring.
As is often the case with donkeys it seems, rather than being too thin, they are very overweight. They both have fat pones on their necks and flanks. Obesity in donkeys is something we see more often than underweight animals, and is in my opinion, a form of neglect. Donkeys are NOT little horses with big ears. They are a species that has evolved very successfully over a very long period of history getting by on very little forage, of often fairly poor nutritional value, that they had to walk over miles of stony, rocky, hard ground to reach. We plop them down in rich, grassy pastures and are then surprised when they develop hoof and other health issues.
I would rather take in animals that are too thin as it is so much easier to put fat on to a donkey than to take it off. A fat donkey is not a healthy donkey. I recommend a dry lot for all donkeys for at least part of a 24 hour period. They do need to graze for their behavioral needs to be properly met, but their grazing time needs to be supervised. Please be aware that allowing a donkey to become obese is shortening their overall life span and can, and often does lead to a myriad of other health related issues.
I am very happy that we are able to take in animals like these and get them on a regulated feeding program and an exercise plan that will help them slowly lose some excess pounds. A great way to help us do this is to join our Take a Long Ear to Lunch program. This enables you to make an on-going monthly donation to SYALER. All of our money to run the rescue comes via adoption fees, merchandise sales, and donations. The grants available for donkey rescue are very specific and we do not qualify for many. Any grant writers out there who want to donate their time and expertise would be more than welcome! Your monthly gift of any amount goes right into our operating cost fund and helps with everything from buying hay, supplements, equipment, to veterinary and farrier costs. Knowing we can count on a certain amount each month is a very comforting. To become a member of the program use the following link for complete details. Take a Long Ear to Lunch!
Summer will be winding down soon and I am looking forward to crisp, fall days already. We have a lot of fun things coming up. Our annual Benefit show will be held at Millot Green, Alstead, NH on Saturday, October 13th. A week after that I will be heading out to U.C. Davis Vet School for yet another Donkey Welfare Symposium. I am looking forward to that as it is always a wonderful chance to meet up with donkey friends I only see once a year at this event, and to learn more about how to give the best care possible to the animals we take in to the rescue. November brings Equine Affaire which is always a fun, if not exhausting gig. We are working on a couple of ideas for seminars/workshops at the rescue. We’ll keep you posted on those.
I hope to see you out and about at our upcoming events.
Well, May certainly flew right by! Thank you to all who attended our Open House. We had a great day weather wise and had a great turn out. It was wonderful to see old friends and to make new ones. The adoption of two donkeys resulted from the day! Our friends Jessica, Larkin, Emerson, and Nicole from Empowered Equestrians did their usual FABULOUS job of introducing people to the joys and power of training using positive reinforcement.
It’s hard to believe that we are more than half way through June already. It seems like little Sassy was just born but she is on her way to her three month birthday. She gets cuter and sassier by the day. I am surprised that she and her mom have not yet been adopted. They will make a great addition to someone’s barn yard.
We have a lot of animals available for adoption right now. Having bonded pairs makes it more difficult to place animals but we do what is best for the animals and a singleton donkey is not a happy camper. Donkeys need another donkey as a buddy for their behavioral and social needs to be properly met. For that reason we only adopt out donkeys in pairs unless it is to a home that already has a donkey. Yes, many donkeys live with goats or horses as companions, but there are published studies validating the fact that when given the choice donkeys will choose another donkey as their companion.
We also do not adopt out donkeys to be used as guardians. I get a lot of “yeah buts” on this one. Yes, sometimes it can work with the larger donkeys. Most often it does not. I once took in a donkey jennet that had been a guardian to a herd of goats for 17 years. She was with the kids when they were born every year. The year I took her in she had killed all the kids that were born that season. Why? Who knows? I have heard stories like this repeatedly and have taken in other donkeys due to similar, though not on such a large scale, situations. Thinking of using a mini donkey as a protector is just silly. I have seen donkeys horribly wounded by a single dog. Those of you who know me, know that I will always do what is best for the animals in my care. If some folks don’t like my rules, or me for enforcing them, I’m ok with that.
I would like to officially welcome Meg Dionne to “Team SYA”. Meg does an unbelievable job of cleaning up after these manure making animals. When she is done cleaning a paddock it looks as if it has been vacuumed!!! She is awesome, has a wonderful sense of humor and if I dare say, is just a bubble off plumb, so she fits in perfectly! We love her!
I would be remiss if I did not mention how thankful I am to Mike Dunham, Annie Kellam, Andria Elliot, and of course my right hand gal Hannah. I could not do this without them. I am also, as always, deeply grateful to those who donate so generously to make sure we are able to give the best possible care to the donkeys and mules we take in to the rescue.
Get outside. Hug your long ears, and enjoy these lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer!
It seems as though summer is in a hurry to leave. This morning was downright chilly. Fall is definitely in the air. The donkeys and mules feel it too. There has been a lot of running and bucking and farting happening in the pasture today. I have been getting calls from folks who are going to be needing to surrender their animals before winter comes. We have had a good summer for adopting out animals, with three donkeys and the adorable mini horse we have going to their new home shortly.
We have five animals in the rescue currently, four standard donkeys and a hinny, who all need a lot more training/handling/behavioral work done with them before they will be ready to be put up for adoption. We work with them almost daily, but it’s been slow going with this group. I am confident that they will come around in time, but in the mean time they need to eat and have their feet trimmed and receive veterinary care and it’s putting a strain on our bank account.
Those of you whom have been getting this newsletter for any amount of time, know how much I hate having to ask for help. I try not to do so unless we are in a pinch. We are not there yet, but heading that way, so if anyone can make a financial donation of any amount it will be very gratefully appreciated. Once the animals can no longer be on pasture our feed bills go up and I don’t feel right if we don’t have a “cushion” in case of an emergency veterinary issue arising. Our cushion does not have much stuffing in it right now. I thank you in advance for any help you might be able to offer. All donations are tax deductible.
Our annual Donkey and Mule Benefit Fall Festival will be held in Alstead at Millot Green again this year. The date is October 7th. I hope to see a lot of you there. It’s such a fun day. We will be having a big booth at Equine Affaire again this year as well. The dates for that are November 9th-12th. I hope to see many of you there as well. Both gigs are like an old home day reunion. I love seeing folks that I only get to see during these events. Equine Affaire comes on the heels of the Donkey Welfare Symposium again this year so hopefully I’ll be able to answer everyone’s donkey questions with new found knowledge!
This event started at midnight and goes for 24 hours. This is a great opportunity to give local now and show the country that our region is #1 as the most generous community on this national day of giving!
This year, our goal is to engage at least 200 donors and raise $10,000 to help us FILL THE BARN to help support our feed and care costs!
Last year it cost over $50,000 for feed, supplements and care for the horses at AAE! Your donation of any amount will help feed a horse, assist with the cost of veterinary care, or provide for other needs such as hoof or dental care.
I’m sorry to have to give you some devastating news. In the wee hours of Monday morning, Congress released a 1,600+ page spending bill for 2017. Buried on page 804 is Section 116, which allows the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to strip wild horses and burros of federal protection and “immediately” transfer them to state and local governments for use as “work animals.”
But with no definition of work animal, and no limit to the number of horses and burros that can be transferred, this language could provide a back door route to killing thousands of these national legacy animals. Although Congress added language prohibiting commercial slaughter and putting some restrictions on “euthanasia,” signalling its intent to prevent the killing of healthy horses. However, ambiguities and loopholes in the language leave it open to abuse. Especially at risk are the older mustangs and burros, now protected under federal law. Under the language these majestic, elder animals could be killed simply due to “advanced age,” a term that is undefined.
We can’t let this stand…Congress should not be allowed to undermine the will of the American people and a unanimously-passed Act of Congress – the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act – through a last-minute spending bill.
We have just hours to make our voices heard… Please click below NOW to call and send a message to key appropriators asking them to strip this devastating provision that could result in the killing of thousands – and potentially tens of thousands — of America’s cherished wild horses and burros.
If you do one thing for wild horses and burros, please do this now!
I think spring is finally here! The mules are shedding like crazy and I saw a little sparrow with a long piece of mule tail hair in its beak heading into the willow tree. The mud has dried up for the most part and we are in full swing getting things spruced up for our upcoming TENTH! Anniversary Open House on May 13th . I hope you can make it! Details are on the website and SYA’s Face Book page.
It has been a very busy few months here. I have had to take back animals that had been adopted into wonderful, loving homes, due to a variety of reasons. I am very good at sticking to my boundaries regarding how many animals to admit to the rescue. If I burn out there is no more SYALER so I need to adhere to my own rules. But….I guess some rules are made to be broken. I got a very sad email concerning a gentleman with stage 4 cancer having to give up his animals as he was heading into the hospital with no plans being made for him to leave. I am so glad I agreed to take in seven of his animals so he could have the peace of mind of knowing his beloved animals would be safe and well cared for when he was no longer able. He passed away less than a week after we picked up his animals.
While I am grateful that I did take in his seven animals in addition to the other three that had to come back, one of those being a huge, Belgian mule with a big appetite, it has put a huge dent in the ol’ bank account. All of the seven needed to be vaccinated, have blood drawn for Coggins testing, will need to see the farrier soon and all will be seeing the vet for much needed dental work this week. That, in addition to major overhauls being done to the existing fencing of the rescue, which has been in place for over twenty years, we have had a few other big projects on tap trying to spiff things up in time for our open house.
All of these factors lead me to once again do what I hate to do most; ask if you folks can help out a bit with a donation. I’ve never been good at asking for help, although necessity really is the mother of invention or at least the mother of forcing one’s hand! I thank you gratefully in advance for any help you may be able to offer.
I hope you will be able to make it to our open house. In addition, we will be hosting a day long clicker training workshop with clinician Lyndsey Lewis on June 17th. There will be room for 12 attendees. More info will be available on the website soon.
The February doldrums are upon us, and at Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue, we have a full house of donkeys and mules snuggled down in beds of fluffy shavings with piles of hay keeping them warm and cozy as they wait for new homes. In the meantime, the humans of Save Your Ass are keeping busy with their care, as well as planning our 2017 fundraisers to support the rescue in the upcoming year.
Our next event, which is guaranteed to bring some fun into the dark days of winter, is the annual Cabin Fever Online Auction which will be held from March 5th to March 12th on our special Facebook Auction page. We are reaching out to you to ask if you would consider donating an item to this 2017 event. Over the years we’ve auctioned off a little bit of everything – travel, art, handcrafted items, services, gift certificates, produce, baked goods, clothing, equine items, animal training, collectibles, household items – you name it! We welcome and appreciate all donations, large, medium or small.
The auction generates a lot of interest (and competitive bidding!), and the proceeds allow us to carry out our mission of helping donkey and mules in need. In 2016 we placed 40 long ears – a new record!
If you are interested in making a donation of any kind, please email Joan Gemme with the following information.
Deadline for donation submission is February 28.
Website (if applicable)
Item Value (including a rough shipping cost)
Please attach a photo, logo, or any other image that will appear with your item. As in the past, we request that the donors be willing to arrange shipping, delivery or pickup of their item to the winning bidder.
We have had a busy start to the new year here at the rescue. Lots of new animals have joined the herd. They will all be brought up to date on their vaccinations, get a clean bill of health from our veterinarian, then you will see them available for adoption on our website.
All of the animals have been wonderfully healthy and have been getting through the winter just fine… until last Sunday morning. When I looked out the window, cup of coffee in hand, just observing the mules hanging out across the driveway in the paddock closest to the house I noticed that my favorite rescue mule Slick was holding a hind leg up. He put it down and lifted his other hind leg, put that down and did the same with both front legs, then back to lifting the hind legs again. This was not normal. I bundled up and went out to check on him to find him shaking and unwilling to move.
It took me quite a while to get him into a stall where I was able to check his vitals. Other than a slightly elevated temperature, all vitals were fine, no digital pulses, but something was very wrong.
We are very fortunate to have VT/NH Veterinary hospital’s doctors to work with our animals. Dr. Lea Warner came out to examine Slick and draw blood. Slick was very foot sore. I was advised to make Styrofoam pads for his feet and keep him in a deeply bedded stall. He was started on medication for the pain and Dr. Warner started a course of five days of IV antibiotics.
By Tuesday, day three of his IV injections, Slick was feeling much better. He was being given his injection by Dr. Ted Johnson who said “Slick is a wonderful little mule that appears to be dealing with a tick borne arthropathy that is responding to anti-inflammatory and tetracycline therapy. He has blood work pending and will continue his therapy as long as he continues to improve without adverse drug reactions eg. diarrhea.”
So sweet Slick has completed his IV injections, and started on a five week regimen of oral antibiotics; 14 pills twice a day!!! This whole ordeal is going to be quite spendy; we are looking at about $100 a day for the five days of farm calls and IV injections and exam. The minocycline is not cheap and we are going to need 980 pills! Slick is one of the sweetest mules I have ever met. He is the one that meets me with a “whicker” the word I use to describe the sound he makes when saying hello, every morning. He is the one that comes up and drops his head so anyone near will give him some scratches and love. He is more like a dog than a mule in terms of wanting to be with his “peeps”. He is so deserving of all the help we can give to him.
We have taken in a mini mule that is an 11 on a cuteness scale of 1 to 10. We’re calling him Mighty Mouse and he is as cute as a bug’s ear. He came in with his bestie Garnet, a full sized, pretty and sweet, red mule.
This past Monday night our dear friend Lorraine Smith of Sun Dew Saves, and 24 Carrot Equine Transport delivered four donkeys that a group of thoughtful, kind people “bailed” from Camelot Sale Barn and paid to get them here. They were very frightened, but all appear to be generally healthy. They have settled in nicely and we have started working to get to know them.
Between getting the two new mules and the four donkeys brought up to date on their vaccinations, having them get a thorough vet exam, teeth floated if needed and hooves trimmed, in addition to the costs incurred by Slick, we sure would appreciate any financial support you can offer.
I hope by the time the next newsletter comes out I will have good news to report on Slick and all the new additions.
Veterinarians must know how to properly document findings and avoid destroying evidence while still putting the horse’s welfare first.
How a veterinarian goes about examining and treating allegedly abused horses can mean the difference between a successful or unsuccessful case against the owner. He or she must know how to properly document all findings and avoid destroying evidence while still putting the horse’s welfare first.
Nicole Eller, DVM, a Minnesota-based field shelter veterinarian with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Field Investigations and Response team, described the veterinarian’s unique role in animal crime scene investigations during her presentation at the 2016 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 3-7 in Orlando, Florida.
First, she reviewed the basics of evidence identification, collection, and preservation. “Evidence is generally defined as anything that can demonstrate or disprove a fact in contention,” said Eller. In equine abuse investigations, this can include anything from photos of a horse’s injuries or body condition to the moldy hay in his feeder.
Veterinarians must view these cases through the lens of someone looking for and collecting evidence. As the equine expert, the veterinarian will recognize key pieces of evidence that other investigators might overlook.
Eller then described the four phases of processing an animal crime scene.
Phase 1: Document the condition of the facility or farm upon arrival
The area will most likely have already been secured by law enforcement and documented via photos and video by the time the veterinarian arrives on the scene.
Phase 2: Document each animal and its environment
The veterinarian will conduct what Eller called “critical triage” during the initial walk-through of the property.
“Critical triage is a rapid visual sorting of animals for treatment priority,” she said. “It’s done to identify animals in immediate need of medical care.”
The practitioner should classify horses needing immediate care as “red animals.” Eller said this might include horses with open fractures, seizures, hemorrhaging, etc.
“Document everything as fast as possible before treating, because the live animal is evidence, and treatment alters evidence,” she said.
After caring for the red animals, Eller said the veterinarian should perform a second walk-through and color-code the remaining animals as yellow (in need of treatment before transport), green (ready for transport), or blue (exhibiting signs of infectious disease).
“Given how horses are typically housed, if one has infectious disease, they may all have it,” said Eller. “But if a few are obviously infectious, you would want to handle them last and have an isolation area set up at the clinic or place where the horses are being transported.”
Once the horses have been documented and tended to, then it’s time to document their living conditions and environment. “Demonstrate how that environment may have directly affected the animal,” she said, including taking photographs or directing the person who is.
Any dead horses, carcasses, or skeletal remains on the property must also be catalogued as physical evidence. Once all horses have been removed from the property, the veterinarian should perform a more thorough documentation of the living space. Note the dimensions of each enclosure or shelter as well as how many horses shared each space, said Eller. Take mid-range and close-up photos of “any receptacles, presence or lack of good and water, quality of food and water, shelter and fence construction and possible hazards, feces, and urine,” she added.
KEALAKEKUA — Loneliness isn’t just a human phenomenon. Its existence has been well documented throughout the animal kingdom, from elephants to primates to canines.
It’s even prevalent with donkeys, the beasts of burden that served a fundamental function in the development of the coffee industry on Hawaii Island.
Just this week, perhaps the island’s most famous donkey — Charlie, the 30-year-old pack animal who has spent the better part of the last 15 years as a staple of the Kona Coffee Living History Farm — finally found himself a friend to share the load.
The Kona Historical Society, which operates the farm, announced Tuesday that its crowd funding campaign, “Charlie Needs a Bestie,” had resulted in the donation of a 6-month old donkey.
“We used to joke his only friends were chickens,” said Gavin Miculka, assistant program director at the Kona Historical Society.
“And those chickens were kind of selfish friends, because they’d just come around when he was eating and steal all of his food,” added Carolyn Lucas-Zenk, volunteer coordinator and development associate with the society. “He’s getting old in age. We wanted him to have a friend. Wouldn’t everybody want a friend instead of being here lonely, by yourself, with some selfish chickens?”
The new animal, yet to be named, won’t just fill a long-existing void in Charlie’s personal life, but will also one day take over demonstration duties at the farm, during which visitors are offered a glimpse of how the coffee industry operated in Kona during the first half of the 20th century.
The new companion was donated by Gary Yamagata, a fourth-generation Kona coffee farmer at Yamagata Farms, which was started in 1898.
Yamagata said he offered the young donkey to help preserve historical authenticity at the only living history coffee museum in the United States.
“Donkeys played an important role in the setting up of the coffee industry years ago,” he said. “That was our main way of packing the coffee from the field to the point where it could be taken to the mill.”
Yamagata made the donation on Dec. 27, 2016, but it wasn’t until Tuesday that the two donkeys finally met.
Miculka described the new friends’ first interaction as a heartwarming affair.
“When we unloaded the donkey, Charlie’s ears went up. When we brought her over to him, he was very curious,” Miculka said. “It was really cute just watching them nuzzle each other, nose to nose.”
The crowd funding campaign began in December of 2015 and raised just shy of $10,000 from more than 90 donors around the world. Those donations and help from dozens of volunteers made possible upgrades to the farm that were necessary to accommodate Charlie’s new pal. Work included clearing land of weeds and invasive plants, some tree removal, and the purchase and installation of new fencing.
“In order to make that happen, the community completely stepped up and helped us out a lot,” Lucas-Zenk said.
She added the farm has a special place in the hearts of many residents, who came as children and have returned in recent years with kids of their own in tow, either as parents or teachers. Many of them remember Charlie from their first trips to the farm.
The site is also visited by travelers from across the globe, Miculka said.
To help keep the experience authentic for everyone who makes the jaunt to the farm, Charlie will serve as a mentor to the new donkey, showing her the ropes until one day, she takes over some of the demonstrative duties he now struggles with in his advanced age.
The final step in the process is naming the new donkey. Because the community was so crucial in making this new friendship possible, Miculka and Lucas-Zenk said they want the public to participate in the naming process as well.
Anyone interested is invited to suggest possible names, which can be submitted until Sunday on the society’s Facebook page.
After that, a committee from the Kona Historical Society will select the top few names, which will be announced on its Facebook page, as well as at the farm and on the society’s website — www.konahistorical.org.
Voting requires a $1 donation, which can be paid at the farm or on the website. The donkey’s name will be officially chosen on March 1. All the money collected will go to care for the donkeys.
“The community was a crucial component in making improvements to our pasture and bringing the second donkey to the farm,” Miculka said. “We’re excited to now have the community play an active role in naming her.”
And Charlie’s excited, too, he added, as Kona’s most famous donkey won’t have to live out any more of his years alone, surrounded only by aloof farm cats and selfish chickens.
An animal charity has called for a halt to the global donkey skin trade after finding shocking welfare concerns and suffering on a mass scale.
The Donkey Sanctuary has conducted an investigative report into the trade, titled Under The Skin, and has found that as many as 10 million donkeys are at risk.
It is lobbying for an immediate end to the trade until it can be “proven to be sustainable and humane.”
“We have seen reports of donkeys being skinned alive, being bludgeoned to death, being transported for long distances with no opportunity to rest, feed or drink,” said Alex Mayers, the charity’s international program manager.
“The welfare of any donkey, both during and at the end of its life, is paramount and should be the primary concern, as for any food-producing animal.
“Sadly the welfare of donkeys used to produce skins and meat is frequently reported to be ‘severely compromised’ during sourcing, transport and slaughter.”
A rise in demand for ejiao — a traditional Chinese medicine that uses gelatin from the hides — is thought to be behind the hike in the donkey skin trade.
The report, published yesterday (Monday, 30 January), reveals the trade has resulted in an “explosion” in the number of donkeys from Africa, Asia and South America being sourced, stolen and slaughtered for their skins.
It claims that both the illegal and legal trade is resulting in a “chain of welfare issues”.
Burkina Faso and Niger have banned donkey hide exports, and the charity is concerned the huge demand could also have a negative impact on the people who rely on the animals for their livelihoods.
“Donkey populations cannot continue to be decimated and communities must not be deprived of their only means of survival,” said Mike Baker, chief executive of The Donkey Sanctuary.
“Action must be taken now to curb this trade, in the interest of both animal and human welfare.”
The charity is calling for:
A halt to the trade in donkey skins to produce ejiao until its impact can be assessed and shown to be both humane for donkeys and sustainable for the communities that depend on them
Countries affected to ban the slaughter and export of donkeys for their skins
Governments and the industry to help raise public awareness about the impact of this trade so ejiao consumers can make an informed choice
Governments and local authorities to join efforts and support affected communities, protecting them from the illegal trade and preventing the decimation of donkeys through the legal trade
There are 100 million working horses, donkeys and mules in the world. They are the tractors, taxis and engines that power developing economies, working in the construction industry, carrying food and water, and transporting goods to market. It’s estimated that each animal can support a family of six, so around 600 million people’s lives are supported by a working equine – 8% of the world’s population. Without healthy working horses, donkeys and mules, they wouldn’t be able to put food on their tables, send their children to school or build better futures for themselves and their families. However, it’s estimated that more than half of these animals suffer from exhaustion, dehydration and malnutrition as a result of excessive workloads and limited animal health services
Brooke is an international charity that protects and improves the lives of working equines. The UK based charity works to deliver significant and lasting change, even in some of the world’s most challenging areas. Their teams concentrate on training and support for owners of owners and handlers, as well as local vets, farriers, harness makers and animal traders to improve standards of care. They operate in 11 different countries, and fund small projects in others. Brooke also conducts research, and works with policy makers to make overarching changes to the way governments tackle working equine welfare.
One of the countries that Brooke works in is Kenya, a country with almost 2 million donkeys. Around 50% of people live below the poverty line, so these animals support many people’s lives in both urban and rural areas, transporting food and fuels. Brooke has been working through local partners in the country since 2011, and opened an office in Nairobi in 2013, with programmes stretching from Turkana County in the North to Kajiado in the South. The work focusses on bringing communities together to make donkey welfare a group priority, with a financial focus.
The Kamara Self Help group in a rural location near the town of Molo, Nakuru was set up with Brooke and Farm Systems Kenya (FSK). This group was registered in 2008, with the original aim that group members would help each other through a group micro-credit (“Merry-Go-Round”) scheme. Group savings are lent out to members at low rates of interest, allowing them to buy donkeys and other items. There are around 300 members, organized into four separate groups. Each member in the group has at least two donkeys, and some have up to eight.
FSK members visit the group once a month, implementing training sessions according to a curriculum they have developed. These cover basic animal care, hygiene and first aid as well as handling skills. They also address common myths about how to look after donkeys. For example, people have little knowledge of how to prevent disease, and branding and ear cutting for identification is common.
The members are mostly women who in many cases are the main breadwinners in their family. Although as donkey owners, they are not the worst-off section of society, by UK standards they would be considered very poor. They earn money by collecting firewood from a forest in the area, and then selling it. A timber company fells the trees, allowing the women to harvest the branches for a small monthly fee, which are then carried back by the donkeys. The women have to walk an 18 mile round trip each day that can take up to seven hours, before taking into account the hours of work they need to do when they reach the forest. They do this six days a week, earning up to £3.50 per day for this work.
These earnings cover family expenditure including food, school fees, medical expenses, clothing, savings, and donkey-related expenses including de-worming, hoof trimming and other treatments. They also carry out small scale farming, growing peas, carrots and cabbages to supplement their income. One group member explained that she has just half an acre of land, so the income from her donkey is essential to her family.
In fact, several of the group members explained that the income they get from work with their donkeys was the only thing that allowed them to pay for their children’s education. One said that she had used it to educate her son, who is now studying to be a vet.
According to FSK staff, the women have come a long way in developing their knowledge of donkey welfare and in adopting practices that promote this. They mentioned for instance that group members are now much more likely to seek out professional treatment from vets, and that they have organized themselves to bring all their donkeys together for a day for hoof trimming and de-worming. The meeting was also attended by a farrier and two vets who now work regularly with this group.
Because the donkeys are so essential to people’s livelihoods, groups like this play a vital role in providing a form of insurance to make sure people don’t struggle if a donkey dies or needs medical treatment.
Brooke recently hit a key milestone, now reaching over two million working horses, donkeys and mules each year. In 2016 they also launched a new global strategy to reach even more animals, provide better support for owners, and create lasting change.
“You don’t have to be very bright to see if an animal looks like it’s on Death Row,” says Jeremy Hulme, Chief Executive of animal welfare charity SPANA. “If you’re looking at a horse or mule, and it’s head is down, it’s looking thin and its bones are sticking out, it’s obviously not right. If it’s limping, you know it’s got problems.”
Most savvy travelers are now clued up on how animal experiences, from elephant rides to tiger temples, might be harmful to animals. Less attention is paid, though, to horses, donkeys, mules and camels put to work in the tourism industry, which is why SPANA has launched a Holiday Hooves campaign.
Thousands of animals are used in travel experiences, from camel rides and horse-drawn carriages to mules carrying gear on expeditions. The animals are often essential to their owners’ livelihoods, but in some cases are cruelly treated, neglected or kept in poor conditions.
“We have no problem with animals working, as long as they are looked after well,” says Hulme (pictured, right). “They need to be well fed, well looked after and not cruelly treated.”
Horse trekking is just one popular activity where travelers should look out for the state the animals are in. “If someone knows about horses, they can tell from a distance if the animals look good or not. That’s the critical thing.
“You should only use an animal that looks well fed, healthy, fit and happy. You can often tell by the way it looks at you, whether its ears are sharp, whether its coat is shiny, or whether it looks dull, lethargic, thin and bony. You don’t have to be a vet to know whether an animal looks good or not.”
“Maybe you turn up to a group tour and there are nine horses that look fine and one that doesn’t look well,” Hulme continues. “I know people don’t like to be confrontational, but they should have the confidence to say to their tour guide, “Hey, that horse doesn’t look fit enough to be ridden.”
Hulme also suggests checking out the state of the stables and gear, if possible. “Those things will reflect on the state of the animal itself. It will still be dirty if it’s been lying down in feces at night, or soaking wet if it’s been out in the rain all night. You’ll be able to see that, and you’ll be able to see the quality of the gear, whether the saddle is falling to pieces or the harness is held together with a piece of wire.”
Check out animals’ stables (Dreamstime)
SPANA operate currently in nine countries, including Morocco, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Jordan, providing free veterinary treatment to working animals, as well as running education, training, outreach projects and emergency treatment in other parts of the world.
It’s not just horses SPANA look out for. “In Petra in Jordan, for example, there are boys that run donkey rides. Some might be fine, but we should be intelligent enough to say: “No, that’s not right for big adults to sit on a little donkey.” We need to have a bit of common sense.”
Children enjoying donkey rides (Dreamstime)
Travelers should also check out the condition of any camels they plan to ride on, Hulme suggests. “I personally love camels, but they need to be looked after like any other animal.”
How do you tell if a camel, famous for looking grumpy, is ‘happy’? “Perhaps you wouldn’t be able to tell if it’s happy or not. But you can see if they are thin, or their humps have disappeared and their ribs are sticking out. The same common sense rules apply. People can see if it can hardly stand.”
Travelers riding a camel (Dreamstime)
On hiking trips and trekking expeditions, horses, mules and other animals are often loaded – or overloaded – with food supplies and travelers’ luggage. At what point does that become a problem?
“Have a look at the animal’s back and sides before they put the stuff on,” Hulme suggests. “You will see if the harness is bad and has been rubbing. Some animals have open wounds, so it’s an easy thing to check. Then check the general condition. You can see whether it’s a really thin animal, or if it looks well fed and strong. That’s important. And when it’s got the stuff loaded on, you can see if they’re hugely overloaded or not.
Tourist taking the easy way uphill (Dreamstime)
“Mules are strong and noble creatures. I’m really fond of them. They can happily carry the weight of a man. If it’s carrying a couple of backpacks, I’m sure they would cope well. But if they’re trying to carry half a ton of cement, that’s different. You can look at how readily they carry the weight. Does the owner keep beating it to make it move? Is it limping? If it is, say something to the owner or your guide.”
According to a SPANA survey, 28 per cent of British adults who’ve been on holiday abroad have taken part in animal activities like camel rides or horse-drawn carriage trips, where they’ve been concerned for the welfare of the animals involved.
SPANA’s produced a Holiday Hooves guide to help people choose responsible animal tour providers and to advise people on what to do if they see animals being mistreated abroad, the campaign backed by Simon Reeve.
Simon Reeves who’s backed the Holiday Hooves campaign (SPANA)
“Traveling around the developing world, I’ve seen for myself how families rely on working animals for their livelihoods,” says Reeve. “But a life of work shouldn’t mean a life of suffering. These animals work hard and they deserve to be treated with respect and compassion.”
The Holiday Hooves campaign, says Reeve, “is about helping holiday-makers to make informed choices, recognize healthy animals and know what to do if they see mistreatment. It’s also about encouraging tour operators, animal owners and governments around the world to take the issue seriously and – with the public’s support – sending a message that only the highest standards of animal health and welfare are acceptable.”
A happy-looking camel? (Dreamstime)
SPANA’S survey also found that over one in five British adults have seen animals being mistreated when on holiday, but over three quarters of them made no attempt to report the incident.
In the countries where they work, Hulme suggests contacting SPANA if they see signs of mistreatment or neglect. Elsewhere, he suggests using positive pressure, that travelers should praise, use, promote and re-use companies they felt treated animals well, and report negative experiences to local tour operators and hotels, so they don’t use the bad companies.
Horse trekking in the desert (Dreamstime)
“People should go to the tour operator and say, “I’m really disappointed. We went there to have a ride and the horses looked awful. No one is going to use them, so it’s bad for everybody. It’s bad for the owners who wont get any income. It’s bad for the horses because they don’t get fed properly. It’s bad for you guys because it looks bad that you’ve recommend them.” Tour operators will be able to speak the language and try to get something sorted out.”
Above all, Hulme says, it’s about travelers being aware and using common sense. People shouldn’t be put off or stop taking part in thee kind of experiences, Hulme argues. “We need to realize that a lot of these animals are working in countries, like Egypt, where there’s been a drop in tourism and there’s less money. People there absolutely depend on these animals to make a living. We are absolutely not saying, “Don’t use these animals”. We’re just saying, “Use common sense and use a good company.”
The gene mutation responsible for albinism in donkeys on the Italian island of Asinara has been identified by researchers.
A unique albino donkey sub-population lives on Asinara, which was closed to the public in 1885 to become an Italian quarantine site and later a prison colony. The 52 square kilometre island, northwest of Sardinia, is now a national park.
The 100 to 120 albino animals live with coloured − usually grey − donkeys on the island. They interbreed, with no estimate available on the size of the hybrid population.
Luca Fontanesi and his University of Bologna colleagues, in a short communication in the journal Animal Genetics, said the origin of the island’s white donkeys was uncertain and based only on legends. It was possible, they said, that they dated back to before the closure of the island to the public in the late 1800s.
There has been no direct human intervention in the management of the donkeys for more than a century.
The researchers delved into the genetic basis of the donkeys’ albinism, with the animals displaying a completely white coat colour, a lack of pigmentation in the skin, hair, eyelashes and eyebrows, and eyes that are light blue.
These donkeys have poor sight and during sunny days will shelter inside the unused buildings of the prisoner colony.
The study team suspected a mutation in the TYR gene was responsible for the albinism and they were proven correct after analysing data from genetic sequencing of seven Asinara albino donkeys and six coloured donkeys.
They found what is known as a missense mutation, in which a change codes for a different amino acid. In this case it affected copper binding, ultimately resulting in a lack of pigmentation.
The findings were confirmed in genetic testing of further donkeys. In all, 82 were tested.
The study team said the isolation of the population and high inbreeding might be behind the increased frequency of the TYR mutation.
They said the identification of the cause of albinism in the donkeys added a new natural animal model for this particular form of the condition in humans.
Utzeri, V. J., Bertolini, F., Ribani, A., Schiavo, G., Dall’Olio, S. and Fontanesi, L. (2016), The albinism of the feral Asinara white donkeys (Equus asinus) is determined by a missense mutation in a highly conserved position of the tyrosinase (TYR) gene deduced protein. Anim Genet, 47: 120–124. doi:10.1111/age.12386
Equine charity Brooke has met its goal of reaching two million working horses, donkeys and mules in a single year.
The ambitious goal to reach this vast number of working horses and donkeys to relieve their suffering and improve welfare through training, research and treatment was set almost six years ago.
It is estimated that at least 100 million equines are supporting more than 600 million people in the developing world. The majority of those animals are suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, malnourishment, crippling injuries, lameness, and/or contagious diseases, nearly all of which can be prevented with proper training for their owners.
Measuring the impact of its work is a key focus for Brooke. In 2016, in Nepalese brick kilns where Brooke works the number of animals with eye problems fell by 42%. In Brooke projects in Nicaragua the number of severely underweight animals was reduced by 31% and Brooke Pakistan reduced by 16% the number of animals in their coal mine projects with severe wounds. In the UK, Brooke now has 30 community fundraising groups passionate about raising money for the cause, and almost 10,000 new supporters have jumped on board this year alone.
“Reaching two million horses, donkeys and mules in a year is one of our proudest achievements,” said Chief executive Petra Ingram said.
“We’re so grateful to our donors for enabling us to offer support to so many animals. This success paves the way for the future of Brooke. By 2021 we want to reach even more working horses, donkeys and mules in the greatest need. And we want to ensure that Brooke makes a lasting difference to animals’ lives – so they continue to benefit for generations to come.”
US donors had also contributed to the year’s success, through its American fundraising affiliate Brooke USA.
Brooke USA Chairman Dr David Jones said the organisation would rely on its donors in coming years “as we strive to expand and reach our next goal of five million animals each year by 2021.”
In a huge milestone for Brooke’s global animal welfare and advocacy work, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) announced this year the first set of welfare standards for working horses, donkey and mules. Furthermore contribution of working equines to food security was officially recognised by the UN in livestock recommendations formally endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS).
“This means that the needs of countless horses, donkeys and mules who have laboured for so long without recognition can no longer be ignored. They’re on the international agenda – giving Brooke a hard-won opportunity to reach more of the world’s 100 million working equines than ever before,” Ingram said.
Heralding this new chapter, Brooke launched its new brand in 2016, including the new strapline “Action for working horses and donkeys” to create instant understanding of the charity’s work and the role of animals in the everyday life in a world where fewer than 20% of people have access to a motor vehicle.
Brooke currently works primarily India, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya, Egypt, Ethiopia, Senegal, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and has pilot projects in several other developing countries.
Brooke appointed five new trustees including three from countries where it works, helping to bring it closer to the communities that rely on working animals.
Brooke’s new overseas trustees are CEO of Change Alliance in India, Belinda Bennett, CEO of Emerge Africa Ed Rege, based in Kenya, and Cheikh Ly, from Senegal, a veterinary school full tenure professor. The UK trustees are Graeme Cooke, the UK’s Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer and former Veterinary Director of the World Governing body of Horse Sport (FEI) and Sarah Arnold, a specialist trust and estates solicitor.
How does your doctor get to the clinic in the morning? A safe bet would be to say a car. Perhaps a bicycle for the health conscious doctor or public transit for the urban doctor. In Haiti this past November, a mobile medical team from B.C. with Heart to Heart Haiti used 22 motorcycles and four donkeys to get to their patients. Now that paints a picture of how hard it is to access medicine for some rural populations.
“We did some serious off-roading as we climbed the mountain,” wrote Rebecca, the organizer.
The path had been damaged by Hurricane Matthew in October making it even worse than usual. On the day of the clinic in Tetbef, the donkeys were packed at 4:30 a.m. and ready to take the supplies, including three Humanitarian Medical Kits ( 2 for primary care and one Mother-Child Health Kit) provided by Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC).
When the team arrived later in the morning, there were more people than they expected. In total 150 people were seen on this one day. Malaria, typhoid, respiratory tract infections and joint pain were mostly what brought them. Seven more clinics were held like this one and a total 1,396 patients were seen- more than half were children and the elderly.
“In Canada we can comfort our children and elderly with fever and pain management,” said Lauren Rose, a nurse on the team who submitted a report to HPIC. “This is not an option for 99% of the people we see here in Haiti.”
In each clinic they saw a lot of patients with fever. “We treated these patients and it is probable that death by sepsis, malaria or typhoid was prevented,” she reported to HPIC. The Humanitarian Medical Kits are always “an essential core item” for their trips to Haiti.
The General Authority for Veterinary Services at the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture has agreed to export 10,000 donkeys to Chinese drug companies.
According to Arabic-language news source, Alarabiya, the head of the General Authority for Veterinary Services, Ibrahim Mahrous, confirmed news of the agreement, adding that the exportation will conform to an Islamic ruling from Alazhar University of Islamic Studies. The ruling requires the donkeys to be exported alive and not slaughtered.
The sale of donkeys has grown profitable for Chinese sellers, with China’s supply of donkeys shrinking from 11 million to 6 million. The internal demand for donkeys has increased, and China is now seeking to import more donkeys from around the world.
Donkey hides are used in China to produce a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) known in China as ‘Ejiao’. This medicine is mainly prescribed for women who suffer from anemia, dry coughs or dizziness.
The same source adds that a Korean company made an offer to Egyptian authorities to import dogs. The Egyptian authorities are currently considering the offer as animal rights organizations have rejected the killing of stray dogs, a practice which has been growing lately.
Zimbabweans need to change their attitudes towards donkeys and embrace the protection and care of the working animals, which have been at the centre of rural economic growth and development for decades, veterinary experts say.Animal and Wildlife Area Research and Rehabilitation (AWARE) director, Dr Keith Dutlow told Zimpapers Syndication at an event to open an education centre for children at the Lions Park in the capital that even though donkey usage is wide spread and extensively adopted in many communities across the country, their use has been masked in negative perceptions and attitudes.
“Donkeys play a significant role in the livelihoods of local communities especially in arid regions, where conditions are harsher. But our perceptions towards donkeys are still negative,” he said. “Those who use donkeys are seen by their peers in society as primitive, backward and people of low status. Even among the donkey owners and users, the donkey image is not to be held highly and as a result they abuse and mistreat them in the process of working the animals. We need to change our perceptions and appreciate the economic value of the working animals. Donkeys are a big asset to combat poverty and hardship in poor communities, and if you were to transfer the benefits — transport, draught power, hiring and all, this can run into thousands of dollars.”