Why We Do This by Tish Hiestand

People often ask us why we rescue donkeys. Here is our answer…

Most people don’t start out to rescue animals. We grow up with animal friends. We appreciate their beauty, intelligence, and companionship. Along life’s path, we probably saw animals that weren’t appreciated, that were neglected or mistreated. Maybe at the time our thoughts were, “someone should do something about that”.

I know when I was a girl there was an old bay mare down the road I use to visit on a regular basis. She could hardly walk. She had been foundered, (as I know now) and her feet were as long as they could be without curling. She stood in the pasture day and night, winter and summer, thru snow and rain, on those horrible feet, year after year.

I enjoyed feeding her apples & pulling grass to feed her when she could hobble over to the fence, and as a child never questioned her lifestyle. I now know that her life could have been much more comfortable if someone had just trimmed her feet & kept them trimmed. She also would have benefited from having a shelter to go in. I don’t know if the people fed her anything other than the small pasture she was in, I don’t remember her being thin, so assume she was adequately fed.

Hers was a life of neglect, the boy of the family was grown and although I don’t know for sure, would imagine she had been his horse. I don’t know what happened to her ultimately. I grew up and went on with my life, and when I went back to visit, the pasture had become a subdivision, and the old house was torn down to make way for more houses.

Forever Home Donkey Rescue & Sanctuary began in 1997, although at the time my husband and I didn’t know it. My husband John saw an ad in the paper for a $50 donkey & asked if I’d like a donkey for my birthday. We made arrangements to go see him. BlackJack was a 10-year-old intact jack & no one else had answered the ad.

The man said if we didn’t take him, he’d send him to slaughter. Of course, we took him, didn’t have a trailer, didn’t have any idea of what we were getting ourselves into, but we had “saved” him. Our relationship and learning curve were pretty rocky until we had him gelded. Not wanting to have a solitary donkey, we answered an ad in the paper and bought him a friend. What we didn’t know at the time, Cisco, had a horrible skin condition caused by habronema larvae, and within 7 months we had to have him euthanized. He had destroyed his sheath by biting, because of the intense itching.

BlackJack was alone again, so we put an ad in the paper to find a donkey. We brought 2 home the same day, one with emotional problems, very distrustful and spooky & another one with habronema larvae that needed daily and sometimes minute-by-minute attention over the next few months.

The next few showed up as donkeys that needed a home and had mental or physical problems. Somewhere along the line, we noticed we were getting donkeys that had no chance at a “normal” home, for one reason or another. That’s when we realized we were home for donkeys that had absolutely no place else to go, and would probably stay here for the rest of their lives, hence the name, Forever Home.

We occasionally get in donkeys that are young, healthy, and adoptable and work to find homes for them. But our primary objective was to provide a sanctuary for those who have run out of options. As a private sanctuary, we were limited as to how many animals we can take in. In 2019, Suzanne came for a tour, started volunteering, and found her purpose among our donkeys. She is now helping us run the rescue. In 2020, with Suzanne’s help and with support from our volunteers, we became an ALL VOLUNTEER 501(c)(3) Nonprofit. Now we are able to do so much more for our wonderful donkeys. We currently have 29 donkeys and 1 mini mule that are all in the sanctuary. Their ages run from 4 years old to 35 years old. Three of our board members live on the rescue’s premises. We have over 15 invaluable volunteers, some here 5 days a week to some 1 day a month. We could not continue without their help and support. Who knew by purchasing a $50 donkey 25 years ago we would form this amazing nonprofit and be able to home so many donkeys for the rest of their lives?

Our Mission and Goals

To help donkeys in need of rescue, rehabilitation, and rehoming. 

Provide donkeys protection from animal cruelty, abuse, and neglect

Sanctuary for donkeys that need a forever home.

Provide education and increase community awareness

Make a difference in the lives of donkeys today.

We offer free tours by appointment only. Please call 520-212-0100 to schedule. We request at least a 24-hour notice so that we may see if we are available on your desired date.

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