Rescue Donkeys {Part 3} Techniques to rescue a donkey from the kill pen you can handle.

This is part 3, the final part in the series of the rescue donkeys articles. I hope you have found them insightful and helpful in making a decision about whether a rescue donkey is right for you. You can find the other 2 articles here: Rescue a Donkey {Part 1} Be Prepared and Rescue Donkey {Part 2, Case Study} Why I do this

Now I want to share a technique I came up with that helped me pick out rescue donkeys that fit my training skill level better when I first started this. It’s not a guaranteed method, but it always helped me choose one that I could help easier and faster. This involves going to a horse auction yourself with ‘running stock’ or a meat buyer’s pen. You will bid against the meat buyers. Be prepared to get some dirty looks!

Picking Rescue Donkeys that could be easier for a caregiver

  1. Go to the rail and see who comes over for petting.
  2. You can offer them treats at this point or wait. I usually offer a treat now so they can see what’s in it for them and show them I’m friendly. This also lets me see who might be a biter and who takes treats nicely. Not a deal-breaker for me now, because I can extinguish biting behavior easily through +R training. For a less experienced person, you may want to take note and not try to re-train a biter yet.
  3. Then show them the halter. Some will run, a few will hopefully stay! I offer another treat.
  4. At this point, I go into the pen. More will probably walk or run away because now I’m on their side with the halter. Now I can start to see who either has been handled nicer at some point in their life or who doesn’t have any bad feelings toward the halter because they’ve never had one on. Being able to halter a donkey easily makes handling and training so much easier.
  5. The ones that stay, I offer another treat and bring the halter closer. This is a stressful situation and a donkey that is offering me trust here is likely to be easier to handle donkey.
  6. Sometimes I will put the halter on the one I’m most interested in, sometimes I’ll see if I can lay it on their neck. Not always though. I realize it’s stressful and usually don’t want to push it. But I have haltered a few right in the kill pen. 
  7. Make sure it’s the gender you want and write down the number on the sticker. Get ready to piss the meat buyers off.

The Technique has worked for me and others I’ve shared it with but there are no guarantees

** This method is how I picked Jeb out. BUT as stated before in the previous article with his case study, he could have stayed around because he was so malnourished and didn’t have the energy to move away. His eyes were bright and alert so I didn’t think this was the case. It is a risk to consider if you are looking at taking a donkey that’s emaciated.

This is my preferred way to bring home a donkey that needs help. I don’t have to depend on what the feedlot guy or auctioneer online says about the donkey (which are usually all lies) I can look at the donkey myself and decide. 

rescue donkeys

All Appearances Considered

You will likely see a lot of poor hoof health in these donkeys. You will see limping, starvation or obesity. These are all things to consider. What aliments can you take on? I go over these things in the Be prepared article. When I took on Jeb I knew upfront he would have a lot of rehab cost with his hooves and I would need to feed him up slowly to regain his condition. 

If you have limited funds set aside you might need to rethink a donkey that looks especially unhealthy. Be prepared because there can be things going on you can’t see that cost extra money but taking a donkey who looks to have decent hooves can be easier to rehabilitate than one who doesn’t. 

An older donkey with recently trimmed hooves could also mean that once settled in they might have hoof manners. Not always, because they could just be sedated for hoof care. I have picked out rescue donkeys that had nice hooves a few times and once settled in they did have good hoof manners. More than likely a donkey like this isn’t in the kill pen from that caring owner. That donkey was probably sold to someone who was a horse flipper. They act like they want a nice donkey when they find one cheaper than meat prices so they can dump it in the meat pen for a fast profit.

Happens all the time, especially with jacks.

The Donkeys Left Behind

This is the hard part. You can’t take them all. You may not have the time or skills to help those sad unhandled scared donkeys that run to the back of the pen yet. Maybe you aren’t confident you can help one severely emaciated or obese yet. 

Please make peace with that! Don’t beat yourself up over what you can not help. Focus on the ones you can help!!!!

Once you develop more confidence and training skills maybe you can take on one of the greater risks next time. 

Or maybe not. We can only do what we can. Time, money, skills, your facilities all play a part in rescue donkeys. If you get overwhelmed you could become discouraged. If you get hurt you can’t help any of them. 

Even if you can only do this one time. That’s one donkey that dodged a miserable long trip and an inhuman death. 

That’s something important!!!

More information

If you are thinking about rescuing a donkey or already have a donkey please sign up for my Donkey Lovers List, subscribe to my youtube channel and take a look at my other training and care resources. 

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