More than 80 donkeys have a home for life after being officially signed into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary, marking the legal conclusion of the animal welfare charity’s largest ever UK rescue.

The rescue took place in the midst of the pandemic in February 2021. It was a complex, multi-agency operation involving the RSPCA, The Donkey Sanctuary and the police, with support from equine charities Redwings, World Horse Welfare, British Horse Society and Bransby Horses.

Over 70 donkeys were rescued from a farm in Wales and placed into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary. Many of the donkeys were suffering from complications associated with badly overgrown hooves and unsanitary living conditions. Several, which included 20 in-foal mares, required urgent veterinary, farriery and dental care.

The transfer of legal ownership to The Donkey Sanctuary this week ends almost three years of legal proceedings and means all the donkeys involved, including the foals born after the rescue, have a safe home for life.

Those that require specialist, lifelong treatment will remain at The Donkey Sanctuary while for the others, this legal milestone means they can begin their journey toward finding forever homes through the charity’s Rehoming Scheme.

“This rescue is a fantastic example of multiple organisations working together to ensure the best long-term outcome for the donkeys,” said Hannah Bryer, Head of Welfare at The Donkey Sanctuary. “Accommodating such a large number of donkeys at short notice was not an easy task but teams from across The Donkey Sanctuary came together without question to ensure we could offer a place of safety when these donkeys needed us most.”

Faith Burden, Executive Director of Equine Operations at The Donkey Sanctuary added: “This is a great outcome for the donkeys involved in what is the largest UK rescue The Donkey Sanctuary has undertaken in its 54-year history. Although they have been in our care since the day of the rescue, protracted legal proceedings meant the future of many of the donkeys was in limbo. The court ruling that all donkeys involved should remain in our care is a huge relief to our staff and supporters.

“To have secured a safe future for these donkeys is thanks to the close collaboration of a number of agencies, who came together at a time of utmost urgency.

“Of course, it wouldn’t have been possible without the unwavering support of the people who enable The Donkey Sanctuary to carry out the work that we do, so we can be there for donkeys who are most in need”.

Images of the donkeys enjoying their new lives at The Donkey Sanctuary. Credit: The Donkey Sanctuary 

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