The Colorado based members of People With Compassion for Pets Giving Circle took a road trip to visit the Long Hope Donkey Shelter. We donated to this group in September and were so enamored with the donkeys that some of our members were inspired to take a visit to meet them in person.
Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer is not only a member of the giving circle, but also a reporter, and below you’ll find her story about their visit. You can find out more about Heidi at Heidi Town, the place for festival, event & road trip info in Colorado.
Rescue dispels myths & finds homes for donkeys
Originally appearing in The Berthoud Weekly Surveyor (January 19, 2012)
Few animals have a more persistent stereotype than donkeys. They are considered stubborn and generally obnoxious, but this isn’t exactly true. It is true of un-castrated male donkeys, but these jackasses, as they are technically called, are less prevalent today than perhaps when the stereotype first started to spread.
The fact is, donkeys are actually quite lovable, something Kathy Dean, owner of Longhopes Donkey Shelter in Bennett, Colorado, has known for years. Today her shelter is home to 44 donkeys, and since 1999, it has provided a temporary home to 575 donkeys, and has adopted out 509 lucky burros.
I had an opportunity to visit Longhopes last week, with my friend Christine Kovacs. Our giving circle, People with Compassion for Pets, “adopted” one of the shelter’s donkeys and they invited us to meet her. Anyone can “adopt” an animal at the shelter, and just $300 provides care and food for a Longhopes donkey for one year.
We’d come to meet Alma, a donkey that was rescued with her daughter from the Bureau of Land Management. Meeting the donkeys at Longhopes is quite an experience. I was not ready for the friendliness these animals display. Having been around horses as a child, I was expecting them to be more horse-like in temperament, but they are not horses.
“Donkeys like human attention. They are a little bit like dogs in that way,” said Kelly Walters, assistant director at Longhopes.
This statement was true, as several donkeys at the shelter decided Christine and I were their new best friends. They followed us around the pasture, wanting pets and attention, and softly nudging our arms or hands if they felt they were being ignored. Head scratches and hugs were the order of the day.
Many different circumstances and stories have brought donkeys to Longhopes, including confiscations, livestock auctions, and surrenders from private owners. The average length of stay for a donkey at Longhopes is around seven to nine months.
“Many people call wanting to adopt a donkey as a companion for a horse,” said Dean.
Donkeys are not horses, and prefer the company of other donkeys. Sometimes Dean will make an exception and adopt out just one donkey, especially if she knows one of her animals was previously homed with a horse, but she still prefers to adopt her donkeys in pairs.
A donkey is a relatively low-maintenance, low-cost animal. According to Dean, a pair of donkeys costs approximately $1,000 a year in feed and care. Longhopes adopts out their donkeys in pairs, because these are herd animals. Donkeys often come to Longhopes as a bonded pair, like Alma and her daughter, while others create tight bonds after they arrive at the shelter.
There are lots of people, especially in Northern Colorado, who are great candidates for donkey ownership. Dean recommends at least two ore more acres of land and a small, sturdy shelter for the animals to get out of the elements. Donkeys do not need a fancy barn, but do need a supply of clean, unfrozen water.
“If you have less than two acres, that’s really not enough for donkeys. They won’t be able to get enough exercise and they’ll probably turn your land into a dust bowl. It’s also important to have enough space between your donkeys and the neighbors,” said Dean.
Longhopes is the only donkey shelter in the Rocky Mountain region. There are other donkey rescues in Maine, Oregon, California, Arizona and New Mexico. Longhopes has adopted donkeys to homes in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska and Nevada.
The adoption fee for a pair of Longhopes donkeys is $550, and this includes spay/neuter and vaccinations.
“Adopting a donkey from us comes with a guarantee,” explained Dean. “If you change your mind, or for any reason the adoption doesn’t work out, we will take the donkeys back.”
Learn more about Longhopes Donkey Shelter and see all their adoptable donkeys at Longhopes.org. A tour of the Bennett facility must be prearranged. Longhopes also has an active Facebook page where new photos are frequently posted. While cash donations are welcome anytime, the shelter is always in need of hay and farm supplies.
To contact the shelter directly call 303-644-5930, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer is journalists and freelancer writer. She’s also the Mayor of HeidiTown.com, a blog about events, festivals and road trips around Colorado.