All animals deserve to be rescued and given a place where they can live out their lives in peace and happiness. Sadly, not all animals get so lucky in life. Yet there is one woman from Brighton who has made the decision to dedicate herself to helping rescue donkeys.
49-year-old Lucy Fensom runs her own donkey sanctuary, often spending upwards of £6000 a month to run her organization. She was inspired to open her sanctuary called Lucy’s Donkey Foundation ever since she took a trip to Jerusalem, Israel back in 2000. Lucy immediately fell in love with the animals, feeling incredibly drawn to the cute creatures.
That new-found love for donkeys led her to build the sanctuary which covers more than 3 acres of land. It’s a safe haven for all abused donkeys. Many of the donkeys that arrive at her sanctuary are severely emaciated and she then nurses them back to health. Over time, Lucy estimates that she’s seen hundreds of mistreated donkeys, an experience that she has shared doesn’t ever get easier. According to TYLA, she has also shared that some of the common injuries she sees in the rescued donkeys are the infected skin lesions from carts and ropes constantly being tied around them and rubbing their skin raw. Lucy calls it nothing short of horrible to watch these poor animals in anguish when they arrive at her sanctuary on the “brink of death.”
On average, Lucy is able to rescue 16 donkeys annually. Most of them arrive at her sanctuary in very bad shape. In her time rescuing donkeys she has seen some very horrific cases such as gouged eyes, ears cut off, gaping wounds, and fractured limbs. Unfortunately, some of these cases have been so bad that there were no other alternatives but to end their suffering.
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Lucy’s Donkey Foundation is run entirely on a voluntary basis by Lucy and her husband. They do have one paid employee who works on a part-time basis. They are currently caring for 53 donkeys at the sanctuary. There are even 3 horses under their care as well.
As TYLA shared, she has discussed that it costs the sanctuary roughly £5850 per month to run care and maintenance of the sanctuary and its inhabitants. But her biggest worry is always the exchange rate and how fluctuations can end up affecting how much feed they’re able to afford.
Lucy explained, according to the outlet, that she does most of her fundraising in either pounds or dollars, but then has to convert that over to Israeli shekels. This often means that they get fewer shekels to the pound, but some of the supplies they need can be quite expensive – like the hay bales which alone cost £2000. Despite whatever struggles the organization might face, they are lucky to have a good support base, with Lucy noting that they have “amazing supporters.” She shared that some of them have even taken to making hair-made chain covers to distribute to local working donkeys. These animals’ owners will often use chained looped around the donkey’s soft nose in order to control them. In order to help avoid injury and discomfort, these chain covers are created out of thick and soft material that can be wrapped around the chains using velcro. They are great for preventing rubbing from the chains and this helps to avoid lesions being created on the donkeys’ skin.
Donkeys are often used as a method of transportation so that means that Lucy’s organization also tries to better educate the public on safe riding practices. These donkeys will often have carts attached to them, but they’re often abused. Lucy has also shared on her Facebook page that many times the donkeys that are brought to her sanctuary are ones who’ve been confiscated by police. While this is great for the donkeys, it’s not exactly what Lucy wants to see. Lucy knows the importance of donkeys in society, however, she really wants to see the donkeys treated with love and respect – which is why she wants to educate the public on how to properly care for their donkeys and treat them with care and compassion. In addition, Lucy works closely with a local vet who provides working donkeys with regular check-ups and any required medical treatment. The organization even holds regular outreach programs for the local working donkeys so their owners can bring them for care.
Lucy has said that she is often met with confusion by the locals as to why she cares about the animals so much, but she just replies that their suffering makes her want to do something to change it. As a result, she has spent a lot of time outside of the UK. She never had the intention to stay in Israel for so long, but it’s the place where she has found her purpose and she is more than happy to continue her mission to rescue donkeys.
Her initial foray into rescuing animals in Israel began back in the 90s when she volunteered at a cattery, feeding and rescuing the stray cats. But there was a donkey that was outside the cattery, often tied up to the wall for days on end. Lucy felt bad for the animal and would often feed and care for him.
She eventually bought the donkey from his owner since it was clear that he’d be left to his own devices for months on end. Lucy then reached out to the WSPA organization and managed to get the donkey transported to a sanctuary in the UK. And from there, her mission was quite clear. She has been passionate about donkey rescue ever since – something that she will continue to do for as long as she can.
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