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Why Us? Why Donkeys?

Donkeys are amazing, loving, creatures that touch the soul. They are gentle and loyal by nature. They stir in you that parental need to protect and care for them.

Donkeys are generally purchased or adopted by well-meaning people who intend to care for their equine pets with love and in a responsible manner.  Unfortunately, they often enter this relationship unaware that they will be responsible for the health and safety of their donkey for up to 50 years. They also are generally unaware of the special requirements for these desert creatures and tend to regard them as horses from a care perspective.

An Old Problem

An increase in demand for donkeys, particularly miniature donkeys, in the mid to late 1990’s resulted in a significant increase in the number of breeders as well as the number of donkeys being produced.  Donkeys were purchased in multiples by novice owners and initially the breeders, for the most part, were particular about who they sold to. They checked references and sold only to those whom they believed would provide good homes for the donkeys.

As the novelty of owning a donkey wore off, breeding continued.  Many overstocked breeders began to sell to unsuitable owners who were ill-prepared to care for their purchases.  To this day, even with young donkeys needing new homes, irresponsible breeders continue to flood the market.

Most of the responsible breeders who stopped producing donkeys when the market decreased are now faced with the problem of finding a home for their own breeding stock as their own age and health prevents them from caring for these donkeys.

The slippery slope from a well cared for, much loved donkey to one that is in an abusive situation begins when the owner cannot/will not continue to be responsible for their donkey companion’s physical and mental health.  Irresponsible owners merely stop giving proper care and the donkey suffers greatly until he is either rescued or perishes.

The Inevitable

Responsible owners try very hard to find new homes for their donkeys. Unfortunately, re-homing donkeys, particularly senior donkeys, is difficult, so our aging, responsible donkey owners have few options when they can no longer care for their beloved long-ears.  These donkeys are sometimes purchased or adopted by well-meaning new owners who are unaware of the work and responsible behavior required to care for these desert creatures.  For those who are not re-homed, there are only two other options – humane ending of their lives or sale at an auction (which seldom works to the donkey’s benefit or chance of longevity).

That leaves the Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge.  Requests to surrender donkeys to our care has increased significantly.  In addition to receiving requests to take in singles or pairs of donkeys, we now are asked to provide refuge for as many as 8 at a time.  One rescue resulted in the transport of 15 miniatures to the Refuge.  Add the donkeys that need to be rescued from neglectful and abusive situations and it is easy to understand why we appreciate the public’s support to care for our long ears.

Humans Need Help Too

Sometimes we are rescuing the donkeys.  And sometimes we are rescuing the owners who, due to age or health-related issues, or the loss of a spouse, or financial distress, can no longer care for their pets.  It is not for us to judge.


Our job – our mission – is to provide a loving, healthy and safe, permanent home for donkeys who are neglected or abused, or, through no fault of their own, cannot be properly cared for in their present circumstance.

It is that simple and that complex.