Unlike a horse, when a donkey is hungry it can’t just jump a fence looking for food.
It’ll just stand there, stoically, and starve to death.
So when Western Canada’s only donkey sanctuary received a call from an ill Vancouver Island farmer looking for a home for his 15 ailing mini-donkeys, they knew they had to act. Fast.
But they just don’t have the money to pull off the costly transfer to Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge near Chase.
“These donkeys are in what we would consider an emergency situation,” said Shirley Mainprize, who runs the refuge with her husband, Robert Miller.
“They’re not being cared for. They don’t have housing, they’re not being wormed and haven’t had their feet done,” Mainprize said Tuesday.
The owner of the mini-donkeys is very ill with a heart condition and cannot care for the animals any more, so he called the sanctuary to save them.
Turtle Valley, which receives $22,000 in funding from B.C. Gaming per year, has set aside $10,000 for what would be the largest rescue in its 14-year history. But the refuge, which budgets for a few new donkeys a year, already has 41 donkeys to take care of, some having come from as far away as Washington State and Alaska.
“We don’t budget for 15 at once,” said Mainprize, who fundraises year-round to cover additional costs.
“This is gonna kick our donkey budget you know where.”
Among the costs are $600 to care for the donkeys’ feet every eight weeks, as well as $600 to have the 15 wormed twice in the next three weeks.
It will also cost more than $2,000 to ferry the mini-donkeys over and transport them to Chase.
One jenny — a female donkey — cannot stand and needs veterinary care on her feet before being moved. She has been put on pain medication for the time being.
Mainprize says there are plenty of costs to maintain the health of their stable of donkeys, but she and her husband do it out of their love for an animal that can live for up to 50 years.
“They’re not a really respected animal. They’re always the butt of jokes,” said Mainprize.
“But they’re very gentle souls. They’re very smart, they have an incredible memory ... they’re very humble — and they need our help.”
To donate, please go to Turtle Valley website at http://turtlevalleydonkeyrefuge.webs.com or call the refuge directly at 250-679-2778.