Animal Rehabilitation and Care Program
The Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge rescues unwanted, neglected and abused donkeys and provides them with a safe, healthy and compassionate home for the balance of their lives. The donkeys that find sanctuary at the Refuge come from many backgrounds and sadly, far too many have been subjected to circumstances that are have caused permanent health and behavioural issues that are detrimental to their wellbeing.
The Refuge does not re-home our donkeys. Due to their longevity and special care requirements, it would be counterproductive to put them back into the community where there is a huge potential for further neglect or abuse, whether intentional or not.
To make sure we provide appropriate care for our donkeys, we have partnered with professionals in the community who are committed to providing superior care. Our equine veterinarians, equine dental veterinarian, and farrier are experienced in caring for the unique needs of donkeys. As well, we have forged strong associations with farmers who provide the kind of hay that is best for the donkeys and with special feed suppliers and other experts in the equine field.
Keeping the donkeys healthy and safe requires a deep commitment from the key people involved in their care. Rob and Shirley, the Refuge Founders, oversee all aspects of donkey care and manage the special team of workers who keep the donkeys safe and well-cared for.
Educating the Public
Donkeys are most often portrayed as stupid and stubborn and as a result suffer unmentionable abuses. They are, in fact, intelligent, gentle, loving creatures who give their love freely but suffer immensely when they have been hurt by humans. Secondary to the physical and emotional care that we provide, we are committed to educating the public about donkey care and welfare, and animal welfare in general. Therefore, a critical component of this program is the interaction between the public and the donkeys during our open season. Guests to the Refuge are introduced to the world of donkeys through talks and tours, written materials and actual interaction with the donkeys. It is our hope that they will leave the Refuge with a new sense of their important role in animal welfare.
The rescue and rehabilitation of a donkey begins with the first phone call from an owner, a concerned citizen, an animal rescue group, the SPCA or the police. We work with the owner to give the donkey a smooth transition to the Refuge.
For donkeys who arrive in physical distress, our farrier and veterinarian are called to immediately assess and provide care. All other donkeys are visited by the farrier and the veterinarian within one week of their arrival and are held in isolation from the herds until we are given the okay to integrate them with the appropriate herd.
Each donkey is assessed on an ongoing basis and individual care programs are developed and modified as needed. Physical issues can most often be readily identified and a treatment plan initiated. Less evident are the mental health issues that have resulted from unhealthy care and unkind treatment. It sometimes takes years for a donkey to trust humans after this kind of abuse and most often the treatment is kindness and patience.
Although we are cost conscious, we never consider cost over the well-being of our donkeys. This includes feed and bedding, medical care, cleanliness of our facility and barns, condition of fencing, paddocks and pastures and all other aspects of the Refuge that may impact the health and safety of the donkeys.
Volunteers play an important role in the care of the donkeys. Groomers brush, pat and hug the donkeys year round to remind them that the human touch can be gentle and loving. This is integral to the mental health of the donkeys.
The Sad Part
Our commitment to the donkeys is to give them a quality life, and sadly this can sometimes mean that we have to end their pain by ending their lives. This is of course the most heart wrenching part of our mission. We do not take this responsibility lightly and do absolutely everything possible to save them before making this ultimate decision to relieve their suffering.
To summarize, we provide the best food, hoof care, veterinary care, shelter and loving human contact to give the donkeys a safe, secure and healthy forever home here at the Refuge.