Donkeys are fantastic, and our foster owners often tell us how much fun it is to give a loving home to these amazing animals. We occasionally also have mules and ponies looking for foster homes as well.
As a registered charity we are always grateful for any assistance – whether financial or otherwise – that helps us to care for our growing family of rescued and unwanted donkeys. Fostering donkeys is one of the most amazing things you can do to help us both financially and in terms of freeing up our staff to provide more specialist care to donkeys that need it most.
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about The Donkey Sanctuary’s foster scheme.
What will I need?
We generally ask our foster homes to provide
- Around an acre of grazing per pair of donkeys;
- An area of hard-standing – donkeys’ feet are really porous so they need to be able to get off the grass when it’s wet;
- A shelter or stable – donkeys don’t have waterproof coats like horses. This will also provide shade from the sun on summer days;
- Robust fencing – donkeys can be great escape artists!
Don’t worry if you haven’t got any or all of these in place yet – our welfare officers will be able to advise you.
Can I choose which donkeys I foster?
Time will be taken to match you and your donkeys, so you can have long and happy lives together. If you like a challenge and have some equine experience, we have many donkeys who require a little extra care and attention, so do let us know what you have in mind.
Why are donkeys fostered in pairs?
Donkeys form very strong bonds, so we make sure that they stay with their friend(s) when they go out to foster homes. Most donkeys on our foster scheme are in bonded pairs, but sometimes we need homes for small groups of donkeys as well.
I have a lonely donkey, can I foster a companion for them?
Donkeys are companion animals so we would definitely recommend finding another donkey to keep your lonely donkey company. We will do our best to provide a single donkey as a companion to your own but will need to chat through all the details with you first, so just call us.
Can I foster a donkey to keep my horse company?
As donkeys form such strong bonds we would not recommend keeping them with horses as they can get very upset if the horse goes out riding without them! If you already have horses you can still foster donkeys with us, but please house them separately to keep them all happy – it is fine for them to say hi over the fence though!
How much does it cost?
We will deliver your donkeys to your door, free of charge, but ask that you cover the cost of caring for them whilst they are in your care. As a general rule, it costs around £700 per year to provide all the care a healthy donkey needs, but it pays to have pet insurance or a contingency fund to cover any unexpected vet bills.
How much time should I commit?
Donkeys are very sociable and would love you to spend as much time as you can with them! We recommend twice a day to pick out feet, groom, muck out and generally make a fuss of them - you could even be the talk of the village by taking them out for walks!
I don’t know a lot about donkey care – does that matter?
Not at all – we invite anyone interested in fostering donkeys to come and find out more about donkey care at one of our free donkey care days at various locations around the country. These give you the opportunity to get hands on with some donkey grooming and hoof picking as well as meet our experts who will be able to answer any questions you may have. We are always on hand to offer support and advice whether you are considering fostering or are a fully-fledged foster owner, so just shout if you need us!
Sounds great, how do I apply?
We would be delighted to talk to you about the foster scheme and answer any questions you may have. Don't hesitate to call the Welfare Team on 01395 578222 or fill out our online form and we will call you back.
What happens after that?
We take great care in matching donkeys with both foster owners and the environment in which they will be living to make sure that you can enjoy long, happy lives together. To help us select the best donkeys for you, one of our welfare officers will arrange to visit you at a convenient time to see your foster donkeys’ new home. This helps us make sure we are not sending less mobile donkeys to foster homes with steeper grazing areas or donkeys that are scared of livestock to a farm! We will also give you details of our free donkey care days that are taking place nearest to where you live.
We will keep you up-to-date with how your future foster donkeys are doing right up until the time they arrive to start their new lives with you. By giving donkeys a loving, caring home we promise you will soon find out what lovely characters they are and superb company to have around!