A new ‘finishing school’ for donkeys has been opened by a Devon-based animal welfare charity.
Every donkey that steps hoof into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary is promised a safe, caring home for life. But the ultimate goal is that many will find their forever home with Donkey Guardians. To help more of the herds prepare for life after sanctuary, a new Rehoming Unit has been built, with the first students already making great strides.
Donkey Guardians play a vital role for the charity, freeing up sanctuary space and providing dedicated care in a home environment. With over 1,400 donkeys and mules on the rehoming scheme, Guardians are supported by a team of Welfare Advisers from The Donkey Sanctuary.
Kerry Layton-Hill, Rehoming Unit Supervisor, explains: “It’s a bit of a finishing school for donkeys; we will expose them to things that they would find in their new home and can tailor the training to the home’s needs too. We help the donkeys grow in confidence.”
The new unit consists of three shelters, housing around 12 donkeys each. Specialist training and exposure to new experiences are enabling donkeys be primed for graduation into their new Guardian home.
Most donkeys would be suitable for rehoming at some point in their life, though they have to pass a certain set of criteria to make the grade. Grooms look at the fitness, health, behaviour and experience of donkeys to ascertain whether they are ready for a home.
Donkeys at the units are exposed to new experiences from walking on tracks alongside noisy roads to meeting people carrying an umbrella – seemingly trivial, yet potentially unnerving things they won’t have come across during life at the sanctuary.
Whilst rehoming may not be the best option for all donkeys, space in sanctuary is at a premium and is vital for those donkeys most in need of specialist care. The Rehoming Scheme provides those suitable donkeys the opportunity to live happy and fulfilled lives in a loving home.
Kerry adds. “It’s brilliant to see the donkeys make such great progress, from being a little nervous to gaining confidence before going out to their new home – it’s just amazing.”