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Peaceful Pastures Donkey Rescue: Rescue Donkeys Looking at Camera

 Our Work 

Learn about how we rescue, rehabilitate and find loving homes for our donkeys.  

Our Mission

We are a 501 C3 nonprofit organization dedicated to ending cruelty toward donkeys. We rescue, protect, rehabilitate, rehome, or provide sanctuary to abused, neglected, severely malnourished, and elderly donkeys.

Our Vision

We envision a world where donkeys are respected for the intelligent, kind loving creatures that they are. A world where abusers are held accountable, donkeys are not exploited, and donkey trader industry is not a reality.

Where do you get your rescue donkeys? 

“Where do you get the donkeys?” is one of the most common questions asked when discussing the rescue. Our donkeys come from owner surrenders, those in danger of going to auction, auctions, and “kill pens.” 

After rescuing them, we have an effective process of rehabilitating them to either find them loving homes, or keep them in our sanctuary. 

Here is our process: 

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Owner Surrenders

Owner Surrender

Owner surrenders occur when life situations change and the owners are no longer able to care for the donkeys. To date, we accepted surrenders from families who lost jobs and feared they couldn’t care for the donkeys, those who were forced to move and could not take the donkeys, family members of deceased donkey owners, owners who have no veterinary or farrier services available, and those who are getting elderly and are either moving or realize they cannot care of their donkeys any longer. 

 

When an owner reaches out to us requesting their donkeys come to our rescue, we do not say no nor do we pass judgement. Instead, we praise the owners or family members for contacting us rather than taking the donkeys to an auction or kill pen. We feel it is our obligation to help all donkey owners ensure their donkeys are provided a safe and nurturing environment. In many cases, we will travel to pick up the donkeys if necessary. As of 2023, the farthest we traveled for a donkey is West Virginia. By taking in these donkeys, we are preventing them from ever entering the auction/kill pen/trader industry and/or the trader industry trucks.  

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Overcrowded auction houses

Auctions

Auctions

There are two major donkey auctions in the state of Missouri and several nationwide. We primarily go to the sales within Missouri, but occasionally we will travel out of state. The sales we attend out-of-state are mostly within Bowie, Texas, where they auction off hundreds of donkeys and horses monthly. 

 

Why do we go to auctions? For a healthy donkey being brought to auction, this is where the abuse and neglect begins. Auction houses are notoriously impatient and abusive toward donkeys. The donkeys move slowly and cautiously when the auction workers want them to move quickly into and out of a room or onto a trailer. As a result, donkeys often suffer physical abuse and high stress at auction barns. Further, auction houses are rarely if ever cleaned. As a hub for hundreds to thousands of equines to pass through, these barns are contaminated with viruses and bacteria that frequently result in illness to the animals.  

 

Another reason for going to auctions is prevention of the traders and kill pen buyers from having the donkeys. Traders travel from auction to auction with donkeys and horses. They offer them for sale while sitting in the audience bidding up the animals. Frequently, they buy their own animal and take the animal to another auction. This behavior continues across the country. Meanwhile, the poor donkeys are exposed to illness, abuse and stress of travel. Many contract diseases that are fatal. 

 

Kill pen buyers attend auctions to try and buy as many donkeys as cheap as they can to resell them. They will bid against rescues and families (like ours) if they know they can make money selling the animals. The kill pen buyers typically only attend the dedicated horse auctions. More on kill buyers under the next section on kill pens. 

Kill pens

Kill Pens

Kill buyers attend auctions and receive donkeys in from sellers. They pay a small amount of money for each animal then place them on a webpage offering them for sale at 2-3 times or more what they paid. They sometimes travel long distances to obtain the animals. 

 

Kill pens exploit the animals to make money. They place videos and/or pictures of the donkeys on Facebook and the internet along with the “bail” required to get the animal out of there. They move the animals quicker and more effectively by setting a “shipping date.” A shipping date is the date they say the donkey will get transported to Mexico for trader industry. In all reality, there are only a few people licensed to ship the animals, but many threaten anyway. 

 

Not only are they setting bail prices very high, but they also provide minimal care for the animals. In the past, I picked up animals at the Bastrop kill pen in Louisiana and found them to be sick with muddy water to drink and no hay. Likewise, I picked up donkeys from Peabody in Kansas and arrived in time to see a horse get trampled and die as they were loading a trailer they indicated was going to trader industry. A donkey I picked up at a lot in Stillwater, OK had a halter on improperly. It was there so long she had a large wound, and the hair and scalp grew around the halter. No one at the lot bothered to take it off for the poor little donkey. 

 

At all the kill pens, abuse and force are frequent methods for moving animals around and loading them. Donkeys get yelled at, whipped and pushed on a regular basis. They also are exposed to severe infection and a percentage will die of respiratory illness.     

Intake Procedure

Intake Procedure

When donkeys arrive to the rescue, they are carefully assessed for health and body condition. This information is then used to create an individual plan that outlines any medical conditions, body condition scoring and details, and any behavioral concerns or characteristics. This plan identifies the necessary steps needed to rehabilitate the animals such as choice of food, veterinary care, or training goals. 

 

Those who come from surrender situations typically are able to go right into the post-quarantine pastures. Those from auctions, kill pens or surrenders that are ill must stay in quarantine. We have multiple quarantine areas that span over roughly 10 acres and divide males and females. We also have a small area within the larger quarantine area that we call the hospital. Here we have 4 isolated stalls where we can place those who are severely ill, injured, getting ready to deliver or have a small baby for focused care. We are currently seeking grant and donor funding to build a larger building that will contain more stalls. With the frequency of severely ill rescues arriving at the rescue, we need several more stalls and a central location to store medications and supplies. 

 

All the equines needing quarantine stay there for 1 month. If one of the group in that area gets ill, the time starts over. During their quarantine time, they get dewormed and the first dose of tetanus vaccine is administered. They are observed closely for signs of illness and behavioral issues. This time is also used to get to know them and their personalities.   

Before and After Rehabilitation Photos

Before and After
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Elmer after rescue from killpen

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Judy after rescue from killpen

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Lucky after surrender, he stumbled up to a family's home starved and worn out, with a giant wound.

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Our horse Pam before recovery, who we more recently rescued and brought home.

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Elmer after rehabilitation

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Judy after rehabilitation

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Lucky after rehabilitation

Our horse Pammie today 💗

Rehabilitation and Training

Rehabilitation and Training 

Rehabilitation starts from the moment the donkeys are loaded in the trailer or for those not transported by us, when they arrive at the rescue. An individualized plan is utilized as a guide to rehabilitation. This plan covers medical, nutritional and behavioral issues and identifies the steps to resolve them.

 

Some are very ill and need medical care immediately. We are fortunate to be able to care for many illnesses and injuries ourselves in consultation with our veterinarian. If the care required exceeds our capability, we utilize our vet or take the animal to MU Equine Hospital depending on severity. We do everything possible to heal the animal, but we will not allow them to suffer with long-term conditions that will negatively affect their quality of life. If the veterinarian deems the animal’s condition terminal and he/she is suffering, we will elect to have the vet euthanize him/her as the last act of kindness. 

 

Nutritional rehabilitation starts the moment we see the donkeys. If the animal is malnourished, we look at the teeth, assess the abdomen for pain, and begin the deworming process. As equines respond to starvation differently than humans, we have a protocol for reconditioning the malnourished donkeys. Some require specialized food geared toward their needs. We may add supplements as needed as well.

 

Behavioral issues and unhandled donkeys are worked with by our Executive Director and at times a few of the board members. This training starts in quarantine but is mainly accomplished after quarantine. The animal dictates the pace of training and socialization. Several methods are used, but none involve hitting or punishing the animal. It is our position that training accomplished with punishment creates unstable, resentful and less predictable donkeys. Donkeys are very intelligent and want to be loved and wanted by their humans. It is really not that difficult to train them if you wait until they let you know they are ready. We do not train donkeys to ride or pull carts. This requires more time than we have to spend with any one or two donkeys, but we do train to be easy to catch, halter broke and leadable. 

Education

Education

We take every opportunity to educate the public about the auction and kill pen industries and culture. The more people know the truth, the more we can prevent suffering among donkeys. Many rescues and organizations focus on the global mistreatment and neglect in Africa and the donkey skin trade in China, and others focus on wild burro roundups in the western United States. While we include both global issues and burro population management in the west in our educational program, we focus more on the abuse and neglect in the auction/trader/kill pen industries in the United States. Because few rescues work to help the donkeys suffering from actual abuse in the United States, we refer to these auction/trader/kill pen donkeys as the forgotten ones. 

 

Our events, tours, public appearances, and social media are all centered around education about these industries. The abuse and exploitation experienced by these animals is inexcusable and has to stop. As we grow, we will continue to fight for these forgotten ones. Additionally, we provide education about donkeys and donkey care, and our events give ample time to meet-and-greet with the donkeys.  

Donkey Stories

Donkey Stories

Discover the incredible transformations of our donkeys at Peaceful Pastures Donkey Rescue! From tales of survival and recovery to heartwarming adoptions, these stories will uplift your spirit and showcase the power of love and care. Click to read about the amazing journeys of our donkeys as they find hope, happiness, and forever homes. Let their inspiring stories touch your heart and show you the true meaning of resilience and kindness.

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