Salmon Arm  

Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge near Chase raising money to care for aging donkeys

Caring for senior donkeys

The Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge is doing what it can to give senior donkeys the best life possible.

Located near Chase, the refuge provides a safe, secure and permanent home for neglected, abused or unwanted donkeys.

“The average age of the donkeys here at the refuge is now 29,” said refuge founder Shirley Mainprize.

“Just like people, as donkeys age they develop chronic health conditions that must be managed and treated to keep them healthy and happy.”

COVID restrictions for the past two years gave Mainprize a chance to concentrate on developing more infrastructure on the farm for herd health care.

In 2020-21, the refuge was able to fundraise enough money to build a new infirmary.

“The infirmary has been critical for daily health monitoring, intake quarantine and surgery. Before this was built, if a donkey needed surgery, we would have to load the donkey into a trailer, drive to Kamloops to the vet and spend three to five days in the clinic for surgery and recovery, and then return home,” said Mainprize.

“The journey puts an incredible amount of stress on an already sick animal. Now we just call the vet out.”

At more than 30 years old, Socrates has been at the refuge for more than a decade. He was diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease, which can cause weight loss and hoof damage.

He also has a heart murmur. In the infirmary, Socrates has daily health checks on his heart rate and temperature, special mash to maintain his weight and medications administered.

Every day, the herd health staff must pull him out of his herd to provide this specialized care, and then return him to the herd.

“The whole process sometimes takes up to two hours,” Mainprize said. “This year, we are launching the Senior Barn and Infirmary Expansion Project. It is the next necessary step to maintaining a high-level of care for the donkeys who need it the most – seniors. We are going to expand our senior housing by 2,000 square feet, adding large stalls to help us continuously monitor our most vulnerable

donkeys better, and expand the infirmary interior to accommodate more donkeys. Right now we only have one stall.”

The refuge has received a grant from the Margaret Haney Fund for Animal Welfare to cover some of the cost, but more money needs to be raised.

The refuge is taking donations and selling T-shirts to help fund the project. For more information, click here.

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