Sanctuary donkeys need your help

Danny Curran, who runs Donegal Donkey Sanctuary, pictured with 'Mickey' who was relinquished to them last week.
Danny Curran, who runs Donegal Donkey Sanctuary, pictured with 'Mickey' who was relinquished to them last week.

A fundraising appeal has been launched to help a local donkey sanctuary devastated by a burglary earlier this month.

Donegal Donkey Sanctuary in Castledooey is well known to the people of Inishowen.

Last year, its owner Danny Curran and resident donkey ‘Quiney’ won hearts across the peninsula when they walked through its villages to raise funds. ‘Quiney,’ who was rescued after being abandoned and tied to a rope, even visited the North Pole Bar in Drumfries. A subsequent photograph of his visit was posted on facebook, garnering over 3000 ‘likes.’

Earlier this month, the sanctuary was targeted in a burglary, during which thieves stole over 4,500 euro worth of equipment. This included a substantial number of head collars and grooming equipment, as well as a quad trailer, stable barrow and even dose for the animals. These were essential for the day-to-day running of the facility. The burglars also ransacked Danny’s nearby home.

Danny learned last week that his insurance company cannot cover the cost of what was taken in the sanctuary itself, which relies almost entirely on donations.

“We’ve borrowed a lot of stuff, but we’ll have to give it back soon,” Danny told the Journal.

He added: “Without all of this, the day-to-day running of the sanctuary is very, very difficult. The grooming equipment was built up over five years.”

200 donkeys have been rehomed since the sanctuary was set up five years ago. Ownership of these donkeys is retained and they’re checked two to three times per year. At the minute, 66 donkeys are also in the sanctuary’s direct care.

Over the past few months, a new facility has been under construction, funded by Leader and donations from the public. When finished, it will incorporate new stables, a gift shop, museum and an educational centre for schoolchildren, which will focus on animal welfare. Three antique harnesses earmarked for the museum were stolen in the burglary.

“We need to replace the equipment,” said Danny.

“We’re hoping that people might help us out by doing a few fundraisers. We received so much support during our walk last year. It was a brilliant experience.”

The latest recruit to the sanctuary is seven-year-old Mickey, who was relinquished to them earlier this week. Mickey was tied to a chain for the past six years. As a result, his hooves are turned and twisted and he has great difficulty walking. He is also quite agitated and scared.

Despite all the hard work involved in running the sanctuary, Danny wouldn’t have it any other way.

He said: “I read in a book once how donkeys had a stoic nature. They are calm and deep thinking. I’ve handled most type of animals but donkeys are so intelligent. You hear the phrase as stubborn as a mule, but theyre not stubborn, just careful and smart.”

He added that the sanctuary sees an increase in abandoned donkeys at the beginning of each year,

“People are still breeding them for the Christmas market,” said Danny.

“They’re then bought for kids as Christmas presents. From February to April, we get extremely busy, as the novelty has worn off then.

Many donkeys were also bought during the economic boom as pets. After a while, their owners don’t want to look after them. Then, they end up abandoned and in a bad state.”

If you would like to organise a fundraiser for the sanctuary, or if you’re a business and would like to sponsor a piece of equipment, contact Danny on (00353) 872199977 or facebook The Donegal Donkey Sanctuary.