THE Donkey Sanctuary Ireland is the latest animal welfare charity to warn of the massive impact of cost of living pressures on animals across the country this winter and appeals to supporters and the public for help.
The charity is currently dealing with the rising costs of caring for the 1700+ donkeys across its farms, holding bases, and guardian homes, and stretching to meet the demands of the urgent community support to donkeys abandoned, neglected and in need.
Country Manager Laura Foster explained that owners struggling to afford the costs of feeding and basic welfare are reliant on charities to provide critical support and referral services: “Donkeys have a special place in Ireland’s heart and history. Despite that heritage, like all pets, sadly they can be viewed as a luxury when people fall on hard times. In short, when we suffer, they suffer.
“As this will be one of the toughest winters in living memory for many, we expect a sharp rise in the need for our support out in the community, and among our guardian homes.”
Dependency on the Donkey Sanctuary Ireland’s services had already risen by the end of the third quarter of the year, with a 26% increase in the number of repeat calls to donkeys needing the charity’s help.
“As a charity, we are limited in our ability to reach all donkeys requiring support at the best of times. By the end of October this year, we had carried out 905 repeat welfare interventions, compared to 721 at the end of October 2021. It is inevitable that dependency will increase over the winter, and we are deeply concerned about the scale of the welfare issue ahead of us,” commented Foster.
“We are only just entering the winter period and many guardian homes have already closed this year. This puts huge pressure on our sanctuaries, which are already full to capacity and coping with rising costs of feed and other essentials.”
“As well as the huge strain on our own services, we are seeing a reduction in the numbers of viable new homes for desperate donkeys. By the end of October last year, we had given 181 donkeys new homes, compared to just 136 at the end of last month. This 33% drop reflects the scarcity of people willing and able to take care of donkeys in the current climate.”
In a message to supporters and members of the public, the Donkey Sanctuary Ireland is repeating the need to refer cases of abandonment and neglect to the right services. “Firstly, for donkeys in crisis, it is vital that people call their local Garda station and / or the national animal welfare helpline, as these bodies are authorised to enforce the animal welfare and control of horses acts,” Foster explained.
“Secondly, we would encourage any owners needing help to call us for advice and support - we are here to offer assistance whenever and however we can.
“Finally, we are already seeing a drop in income; any support, in the form of donations or by adopting one of our donkeys as a Christmas gift, goes directly to helping us fund our services.”
National helplines for reporting animal cruelty/neglect: