Donkeys have been used as “beasts of burden” in Israel for the past 5000 years. Today donkeys are still used to pull carts and carry heavy loads on their backs. For as little as $25 a donkey can be purchased and put to work. When these animals are sick or injured very often no veterinary care is given since in most cases it is cheaper to buy a new donkey. Sick, injured, elderly and surplus donkeys are usually turned out and left to fend for themselves – sometimes even tied to a post without food or water and left to die. This is why Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land exists. By improving the status of donkeys and promoting their welfare through education Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holly Land is helping an animal that works very hard to help people day in and day out.
The sanctuary has taken on a huge responsibility, but they do it with unwavering determination and dedication. They have made tremendous progress in improving conditions for donkeys in their area, but there are still those they do not get to in time. Those that are lost make the staff and volunteers even more determined in their efforts. When they hear stories like that of a group of children who found a stray donkey and for fun, they doused him with petrol and set fire to him. Or, when another group of teenagers decided they could make use of a stray donkey for their summer holidays. Later the same day, they either got bored or decided they had nowhere to keep the donkey so they killed him by hammering nails into his head. Other donkeys are taken to landfill sites and left out like rubbish when they have outlived their usefulness. This sanctuary is making steady progress for animal welfare in a country where very little humane education exists.
Founded in 2000 by Lucy Fensom, Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land is the only organization dedicated to the welfare of working and abandoned donkeys in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Having moved from its original site in Ramla, near Jerusalem, the sanctuary and rescue center is located on farmland at Gan Yoshiyya, near the Israeli towns of Netanya and Hadera, and only five miles from the volatile Palestinian territory of Tulkarem.
In addition to the day-to-day sanctuary operations and coordination of rescue efforts, Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holly Land is working to expand education programs and veterinary outreach. The goal of the educational program is to reach out to the hearts and minds of the Israeli and Palestinian people by creating a visitors center for local children and tourists as well as an information project for local farmers. Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land is working tirelessly to change peoples’ attitudes towards donkeys in order to create a better future for these magnificent creatures in Israel.