Newsletter Autumn 2008

Six more donkeys, a pony and a horse joined the ranks since our Spring newsletter and little Daisy donkey died of natural causes at aged 41 years, bringing our total donkeys to 20, plus 17 ponies, 3 horses and 2 mules currently in our care for the winter.

Josiah sarcoids


3 year old Josiah was relinquished to us by the family when his elderly owner died. He had several, prominent and bleeding sarcoids (angleberries) hanging off his sheath and underbelly.

These are usually pre-cancerous growths which, in some cases can be removed, though they have a profilic tendency to recur.

Our own vet advised sending Josiah to The Donkey Sanctuary in Liscarroll, Co. Cork, where they have hospital facilities and specialise in donkey surgery.

Josiah sarcoids



Josiah sarcoids

We sent Josiah with a donation of €750 and a promise to fundraise further if he could be helped.

Unfortunately during the operation their vet found Josiah had 14 other internal sarcoids and had no option but to put him to sleep. Would it have been a happier story had someone acted sooner?


We can’t be sure but it is probable. Had the first small sarcoid been removed early there was certainly a better chance that others would not have seeded into the area.

Jessica before
Jessica before



This is Jessica when found in March 2007 by a couple who had recently moved to Ireland from UK.

Jessica was standing near to the carcass of her dead donkey friend who had apparently died at least a week earlier and it was only her brays of distress that made her presence known.

Her grossly overlong hooves, which measured 16 inches (40.5 cms), made it extremely difficult for her to walk.

On behalf of her elderly owner, the couple took on the responsibility of looking after Jessica.






When he died early in 2008 the couple were asked by the family to assume ownership but remove Jessica from their land. As the couple had no facilities themselves they asked if Jessica could join us at the Sai Sanctuary, where they visit her regularly and contribute towards her upkeep.

Left - Here she is now, a very different donkey


Jessica is classed as a Grade 5 laminitic, which means the bones in her front feet are fully rotated and sinking due to long term neglect and incorrect (or lack of) trimming. At nearly 30 years old we all understand she is on borrowed time and will all pull together to ensure her last years are as happy and comfortable as possible.


Charlie Hee Haw


Charlie was relinquished to us in May 2008 when his elderly owner, who had kept Charlie for 36 years, was physically no longer able to look after him.partly due to the lack of a qualified farrier to trim Charlie’s hooves, so they had grown into nine inch (22.5cm) long tubes. This made it difficult for Charlie to get on his feet after lying down, and he was too heavy for his owner to lift.

At 43 years old, Charlie’s teeth also in needed attention. Two were extracted. One had worn to resemble a needle which pierced the opposite gum when Charlie tried to eat so his mouth was lacerated and infected inside - no wonder he was failing!

Charlie’s also suffered lice infestation, a common problem after such a wet winter as that of 2007/8.

Once his hooves, teeth and parasites were treated Charlie recovered well and enjoyed a wonderful few months with his donkey friends before succumbing finally to a stroke. His owner was sad finally to lose him but expressed great gratitude that Charlie had been looked after in his last weeks and died peacefully. It meant a lot to him that his old friend had not suffered.



Roki is 26 years old and was relinquished when his owner had to return to Scotland for work and could not take Roki with her. Roki was in excellent condition though he does suffer with kidney infections. He is nervous with some men but usually friendly towards women. Although shy, since being with the other donkeys he has quickly realised that if he doesn’t push his way in, he misses out on the carrots and increasingly the tummy wins!

Happily for us Roki loads and travels well so his calendar is booked for many a public appearance like our “Crazy” walk.





Candles was relinquished to us in August as a chronic laminitic.

The soles of both her front hooves have dropped and she is lame on her near fore leg.

She is a sweet natured little pony who quickly adapted to living out with our other small native ponies and we hope that once her hooves are corrected she can, in due course, be offered to a loving and experienced home as a companion pony.




Little Nel wound Little Nel wound

This stoic little 30 year old donkey mare was relinquished to us in a depressed state during August, shortly after her last foal had been been sold from her. She is a chronic laminitic though on arrival it was apparent that a huge swelling on her left shoulder was causing at least some of the lameness. The swelling formed a huge abcess which burst to reveal a wound the size of the palm of a hand.

Little NelAlthough it must have been incredibly painful Little Nel tolerated weeks of patient cleaning and washing out of the wound and never once went to kick or bite her nurses!

It is thought she may have been attacked by a neighbour’s stallion who broke loose from his field in the owner’s absence and if so, we pray she is not in foal again.

Although it would be delightful to have a playful youngster about the place, there are already far too many unwanted donkeys in the country, and Little Nel’s 30 years are against her carrying another foal with ease.



Florrie has been on a promise to come to us for some time when her caring owner felt he could no longer manage to look after her properly.

She is another 30++ year old with chronic laminitic problems. She is anaemic, frail, has no top teeth left and tiny but badly formed hooves. However, her spirit is willing so once again once she has seen the vet, dentist and the farrier we hope she will enjoy a few good retirement months or years with us.


Saxon and Willow



Although we would have loved to have kept these two lovely horses at the Sanctuary forever, we currently do not have adequate facilities, so we were more than grateful when Cathy Wilde of the Victor Dowling ISPCA Equine Centre in Mallow, Co. Cork, offered to take them and try to find good foster homes. On our last visit Saxon had made excellent friends with another elderly gelding so was less fixated on Willow, who was probably heaving a sigh of relief as she could join the other small herd of mares without his constant attention! Both look extremely well and happy.





Taus and Fairy were both returned from their respective foster homes early in the year, largely for economic reasons. Fairy has since been placed in another foster home close to the Sanctuary where we can continue to help with her high maintenance as a severely “sweetitch” albino. Taus now companions Copper, who at 30+ years old is unlikely to find a foster home. They are so alike in looks they could be related!

Taus and Copper


We were sad to learn, belatedly, of the death of Mrs Phyllis Browne of Rialto, Dublin after a long illness. Phyllis lived for the love of animals and was a ardent fan of the donkeys. In her later years she cared for many of the stray cats in her immediate area, sometimes walking a considerable distance each day to check on them and feed them. It will be difficult to follow in her devoted footsteps.

We are also deeply saddened at the passing of Eddie Power who was hugely instrumental in setting up The Irish Horse Welfare Trust, along with his daughter Sharon. Eddie gave of his time and skills very generously, mostly working away quietly in the background yet providing a constant source of inspiration and encouragement to everyone else involved. To coin a phrase from Monty Roberts, Eddie has left the world a better place for horses and for that all equine lovers are truly grateful.






At the Sanctuary we were all very sorry to lose our little Jackie Packet, a Heinz 57 mongrel who joined us at 11 years old and was an amiable and enthusiastic companion for four years.


Also Daisy, who left us unexpectedly, despite her 41 years. Daisy had appeared to be in good health up to the very morning of her death. She didn’t stay nearly long enough for any of us!






Late in July we hosted a day for the 18 children on holiday in Ireland from Bellaruse.

The children were split into two groups and while one group interacted with and learned about the donkeys (which are not known in Russia generally) and met the ponies and horses, the other individually hand-painted their own ceramic donkey, kindly provided by Rula-Bula Pottery of Sligo, that they could take home as a memento of their day.




A delicious organic lunch with vegetables donated by The Organic Centre, Leitrim, was enjoyed by all. In a spell of rare beautiful weather we unfortunately picked a damp, midgy day - a real Irish experience! Spirits remained bouyant, however, and it is true to say everyone appreciated the day.





An equal number of adventurous men and women responded to the Sai Sanctuary for Donkeys' 'mini mountaineering experience', which took place on Sunday, September 28th, and coincided with National Trails Day.

People from throughout the wider west of Ireland responded to the appeal for participants, including counties Sligo, Galway, Mayo and Roscommon. Their combined efforts raised the amazing sum of €1000 for the Sanctuary.The event included scrambling up and down scree slopes, an exciting 20-metre abseil, as well as some further rope work. It was run by experienced mountain leader Martin McGuigan from Omagh (

If you missed this exciting one-day event and you are interested in participating next year, contact

Pictured after the successful completion of the abseil component ofthe challenge are: (back row, left to right) Alan Tees (president, Mountaineering Council of Ireland), Shane Taggart, Ainki Henn (event organiser), Aoife McGuigan, Stephen & Karen Cullen and Kieran Stafford. Front row are Yvonne Rogan and Martin McGuigan.



Once again we were blessed with a superb day on 8th June and are immensely grateful to everyone who sponsored walkers, or came along on the day, to raise a momentous €8,000 which was shared with the Sligo SPCA. We are indebted to The Order of Malta Corps who monitored the safety of the event.

crazy for creatures sponsored walk


In April we welcomed Ainki Henn, a committed supporter of the Sai Sanctuary, who offered to come on board as our voluntary fund raiser and events manager for the foreseeable future. Ainki has a professional events managing background, first in her native South Africa and during the last 10 years in Ireland where she worked in this capacity for a national charity. Unfortunately Ainki’s father died suddenly in May which meant she had to return to S.A to be with her family for six weeks, resulting in the cancellation of some of the events she had planned for the summer months. Nothing daunted, she again set her considerable energy to the task on her return in July. This is an ENORMOUS lift to our funding requirements and we take this opportunity to thank both Ainki and all the wonderful people who have met her challenges to contribute towards our annual expenses.


Of the very many other people we wish to acknowledge we especially thank Hartmud and Eli Krinitz for raising an amazing €1,086 at their German tourist slide shows of Ireland; L Brett who forewent birthday presents in lieu of donations to the donkeys and gifted us €205 in a stunning papier mache donkey money box made by herself with a little help from Mum.

L Brett
L Brett

Jane Bruce who raised £81.00 by organising a Donkey Walk through her local parkland (Jane took photos but the day was so wet and foggy they don’t reproduce very well - sorry Jane! )

Amanda, Siobhan and Pam who raised €450 between them at The Flora Women’s Mini Marathon; Rev.Noel Mills for the proceeds the Oasis Music Shop’s collection box, the Handel family for sharing grazing for most of the summer, and for all their help with preparation and serving of food for the Bellaruse children’s visit; Mike Watson for extraordinary generosity of both time and resources (amongst other tasks Mike painted all the yard shed roofs during the early summer weeks). Eugenie and Gerry who fundraised €600 and to faithful volunteer helpers Angela, Nina, Jill and Dale, Mike and Vi, and Karen.


There has been an unprecended amount of welfare calls for severly undernourished horses and ponies, and for aged donkeys with various problems beyond the scope of their (usually) elderly owners. In such cases, as in cases of cruelty which come to us through Gardai intervention, welfare organisations involved in the nursing and rehabilitation of these animals take on on a huge financial and moral commitment.

It is no secret to anyone that food prices have risen dramatically over the last 12 months: this applies also to animal feedstuffs, a situation exacerbated by our abyssmal summer and poor harvest. We have just bought in 200 bales of last year’s hay at €4.25 a small square bale (this year’s promises to be upwards of €4.50 a bale) and 400 bales of barley straw at €3.25 a small bale, which is only a part of the winter’s supply. Each bag of feedstuff has risen in price by €1.30 putting another €65 per month on the bill for the winter.

This leaves us, along with many other animal charities, facing a difficult winter with greatly stretched resources so once again we take this opportunity to THANK absolutely and straight from the heart EVERYONE who has, does and will contribute to our work into the future. Without you we cannot exist, even with the vitally supportive payments from the Department of Agriculture and Food. You are essential to our work and directly responsible for these animals finding veterinary attention and a safe, nurturing future. With this in mind may we wish you all a very happy, peaceful Christmas-time and a joyous, healthy New Year.

welfare case

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