Sunday, October 27th, will be the last regular Open Day at the DSC Farm this year.  Its arrival will herald an appreciated  break for volunteers, staff and the animals too, because the days have been busy giving a welcome to almost 20,000 visitors these past 6 months. In the process myriad questions have been answered, informative lectures have been given,  countless, stories about the donkeys’ histories have been related, thousands of pats have touched furry coats – with all of this being done in the hope that young and old will better understand  the dimensions, requirements and responsibilities of “taking care” of our animal friends.

Back in 2010 the Canadian poet, Ken Babstock, visited the Sanctuary.  He watched, listened and admired the donkeys, mules, hinnies, and their caregivers. The poem below is the chronicle of this visit. Every time I read it, I learn something new about what we are doing here and why it is being done.

Autumn News from the Donkey Sanctuary

Cargo has let down
her hair a little and stopped pushing
Pliny the Elder on

the volunteer labour.
During summer it was all Pliny the Elder,
Pliny the Elder, Pliny

the – she’d cease only
for Scotch thistle, stale Cheerios, or to reflect
flitty cabbage moths

back at themselves
from the wet river-stone of her good eye. Odin,
as you already know,

was birthed under
the yew tree back in May, and has made
friends with a crow

who perches between
his trumpet-lily ears like bad language he’s not
meant to hear. His mother

Anu, the jennet with
soft hooves from Killaloe, is healthy and never
far from Loki or Odin.

The perimeter fence,
the ID chips like cysts with a function slipped
under the skin, the trompe

l’oeil plough and furrowed
field, the UNHCR feed bag and restricted visiting
hours. These things done

for stateless donkeys,
mules and hinnies – done in love, in lieu of claims
to purpose or rights –

are done with your
generous help. In your names. Enjoy the photo.
Have a safe winter

outside the enclosure.

Ken Babstock
In Methodist Hatchet, published by House of Anansi Press 2011

Sandra Pady, Founder


The DONKEY DRABBLE book is here!

With much pride The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada announces the publication of DONKEY DRABBLES, our new collection of 100-word prose pieces in praise of donkeys and mules.  

DSC donors, volunteers and staff share their literary talents in these essays through personal reminiscences about the animals. With sympathy and delight the authors describe their sometimes surprising yet always satisfying interactions. Each essay is a complete story unto itself, illustrating the axiom that there is much to be said through the expression of more with less. 

Early reviews of the book have been filled with praise. “Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down.”, “What a delight!”, “I laughed, I sighed.”

75 pages. Each drabble accompanied by a corresponding photograph. Unique 3 grommet binding. $21.99 – a perfect gift. Available for purchase at the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada’s Long Ears Boutique, in person, or via the Long Ears online store.

Sandra Pady, Founder

IN THEIR HOOVES – Tourists Are Called On To Help

The first time that I remember seeing, really seeing, a working donkey was during a trip to Egypt. We were in the center of Cairo, riding in a car, along with many thousand other cars, moving on those hot, dry, dusty streets. Right in the middle of all of that traffic, a donkey was walking at the side of the road, laden with so many hundred pieces of wood that it was difficult to see his head or his torso. As we rolled past, I stared at his sagging body while the image burned itself into my mind. And I have never forgotten.

Looking back from today, I can appreciate the radical importance for me of the sight of that working animal.   The colossal effort he was making could not be overstated; asking a donkey or mule to carry such weight was just, plain wrong. In the years since, I have witnessed many other donkeys, straining under loads, loads which were too often heavy human beings, people on holiday, visiting the sites and apparently oblivious of their weight pushing down on the animals’ backs. On occasion I would comment out loud and address the donkeys’ owners but I was too often ignored, dismissed as being an emotional woman.

With all of that in mind, in recent years I have become aware of other voices calling for change; more and more people expressing distaste for the animals’ abuse. Now, in recent months a major step has been taken, initiated earlier this year by The Donkey Sanctuary headquartered in Sidmouth, England. That organization has launched a hard-hitting, responsible tourism campaign called “IN THEIR HOOVES”, which encourages tourists who may not always be aware, to take a step back and think how they might feel working in the same conditions as the donkeys and mules they come across in their travels.

The initial focus of this campaign has been Santorini, Greece, where 200+ steps are required to be climbed in order to visit a renowned monastery. All day long, in the blazing sunshine, donkeys carry tourists up and down those stairs. The Donkey Sanctuary has joined forces with Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the cruise industry’s trade association. The animated film in this link is being shown to passengers on CLIA member cruises before they disembark on the island: 

Guided by the 5 questions below, passengers are urged to look out for signs of stress and if they are seen, to report the situation at the nearest police station or municipal office.

  1. WATER – Is fresh water accessible?
  2. SHELTER -Is there shelter for rest periods away from the sun?
  3. OWNER BEHAVIOUR – Is the animal being mistreated?
  4. WOUNDS – Are there open wounds or signs of injury?
  5. WEIGHT – Are the animals being asked to carry an acceptable weight?

All those times that I complained about the over-worked animals, I never reported my concerns; I didn’t think it would do any good.  Now, however,  things are different and campaigns like “In Their Hooves” inform me that my single voice, directed to appropriate authorities, will join those of other people and help to protect the donkeys and mules we see on our travels.

Sandra Pady, Founder

With Gratitude to Jack

Jack with Marci

Recently, as some of you are aware, twenty-seven year old Katy, a Miniature donkey, died peacefully at the Sanctuary Farm.  When that happened, I was reminded of Jack Hallam, Katy’s former caregiver,  whose concern for her welfare, and for that of her three companions, prompted him to arrange to have them transported to us in 2001 from Salt Spring Island, British Columbia.

Jack, a lifelong bachelor, cared for many, many animals over the years.  The several acres that he owned on Salt Spring were set up for his dogs, cats, rabbits and donkeys to enjoy.  They lived most agreeably all together and it was only the increasing limitations of encroaching old age which compelled Jack to part with his donkey friends by requesting their admission to the DSC.

It seems like yesterday that we began to monitor the donkeys’ progress from the moment that their trailer left Salt Spring.  The ferry ride to the mainland was on calm seas and then the three night road trip began.  For much of it, we were told that the four donkeys munched away, swaying with the trailer as the thousands of kilometers passed by. There were many telephone calls along the way.  On the early evening of the animals’ arrival at the DSC, Jack was here, too.  He had flown to Ontario and then made his way to the Sanctuary so that he could greet them.  We raised a cheer as Katy, Gemmi, Peter and Marci trotted down the ramp.

The Salt Spring 4

Over the years until his death in 2016, we had many opportunities to enjoy Jack’s company.  He was a generous man who visited us often and who helped with the costs of the donkeys’ ongoing care.  Their future welfare was important to him and so he made sure to inform us that a bequest in his Will had long been made to the DSC.  Jack was always thinking ahead, aware that ‘the future’ can become ‘the present’ in the blink of an eye while ‘carrying on’ means just that.

We invite those of you who are reading this post, people who care about animals and their long-term welfare, to consider leaving a bequest to the DSC in your Wills, too.  Upon request, we would be glad to send along the DSC Guide to Legacy Giving which might assist you as you make up your mind:

Like Jack, everyone who notifies us that the Sanctuary is listed in their Will is welcomed into the DSC Green Fields Circle.  Such long term commitment means much – needed  help will be there in the future and we are grateful to be able to acknowledge this generosity in this way.

Although Katy is missed by many staff, volunteers and donors (Peter died in 2017),  Gemmy and Marci are still living at the DSC, roaming in the fields as I write.  At the same time we are confident that Jack Hallam’s spirit is here along with them, enjoying the peacefulness of their animal world.

Sandra Pady, Founder


WORKING ON YOUR BEHALF: Animal Justice and Humane Canada

Animal Justice is an organization dedicated to leading the legal fight for animal protection in Canada. Its lawyers work to pass strong new animal protection legislation, push for prosecution of animal abusers and fight for animals in court.

Humane Canada is the federation of SPCAs and humane societies across the country.  For more than 25 years this organization has worked to persuade  government to amend animal cruelty sections of the Criminal Code. 

Their persistent, dedicated work is making a difference and in recent weeks they have had cause for celebration.

In early June, when Parliament passed Bill S-203 (the ban on keeping whales and dolphins in captivity), Bill C84 (amendments to the Criminal Code pertaining to bestiality and animal fighting) and Bill C68 (the outlawing of the trade in shark fin products) – bills which had faced delay and obstruction through every step of the legislative process – it was due to the combined efforts of Animal Justice, Humane Canada, 20 other stakeholder organizations, and dozens of scientists from the relevant communities.  The passing of these Bills was an historic moment for animals in Canada, major steps along the road to an ultimate goal: the parliamentary  recognition of all animals as sentient beings.  

Our praise goes out to these and all of the other non-profit organizations that are working to improve the lives of animals in our society.

For further information: and

Sandra Pady, Founder


Improving Animal Welfare: a government-sponsored public survey

As  many are aware, in March the OSPCA announced the curtailment of their animal welfare protection services in Ontario as of June 28, 2019.  This dramatic action, which could have a major impact upon animals in need of intervention and help, has precipitated an announcement by the government  that it is now “working towards a new, permanent enforcement model”.

Subsequently, on May 17, 2019,  the Ontario government released a public survey intended to be a “next step” in the improvement of the animal protection process. It is important that all of us who are committed to the improvement of standards of animal welfare take this survey which must be completed on or before June 6, 2019.:  .

Additionally, since the development of a new enforcement model will be no doubt a lengthy process, a government regulation has been posted enabling affiliates of the OSPCA, such as local humane societies, to continue enforcement as would be necessary.

Along with the completion of the survey, please contact your local MPP to express your concern about this situation. Effective animal welfare protection services, carried out by people specifically trained in this regard, should exist province-wide and they must be supported with adequate funding.  Your telephone call or email will encourage these results.

Thank you for helping the animals,

Sandra Pady
Continue reading Improving Animal Welfare: a government-sponsored public survey

A 4 Minute Film That Says It All

A few days ago, we received the link to a mini-documentary produced recently about the work of the DSC.  The film has been made available for our use and we are proud to share it with you.

Our gratitude goes out to the team at P-Your Vision Inc., Toronto, ON who are responsible for the conceptualization, creation and production of the film.  We think it captures with sensitivity and clarity the vision and mission of The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada.

As they say……..enjoy… and do share this with your friends.

Sandra Pady, Founder