Tag Archives: donkeys

One thing my donkeys won’t be doing this Christmas

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Cece + Lilac = best buds! pics:R.T.

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Cece washing Lilac

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Cece and Rose. … Miss Cece!!!!!!

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By Amy Skylark Elizabeth

I just watched the recent video “allegedly” (as the news reports put it) showing a man who was beating the living hell out of a camel in a live Nativity scene, and I’m bristling with anger. “Those poor camels have been smacked, kicked, choked by being pulled to the ground every time they try and stand up. My kids and I are absolutely heartbroken seeing them treat the camels this way. We didn’t even get the worst part recorded,” wrote the person who posted the now-viral video.

The display in question — which takes place annually at a medical center in Kentucky — has been canceled this year in light of this disturbing incident, but the facility claims that it has been renting animals from the same company for more than 20 years.

It’s chilling to watch YouTube videos of the center’s Nativity scenes in prior years and see the sheep, camels and donkeys used as props. As someone who has two donkeys who were rescued from abusive situations, I can only hope that all these animals weren’t also “allegedly” smacked, kicked and choked.

One thing that isn’t “alleged” is that animals used in Nativity displays are magnets for abuse. In 2014, a little donkey was crushed to death after a large man climbed into his pen and sat on his back to pose for pictures. He slowly died from injuries, which were likened to being “burst inside.” Other incidents include the barbaric beating of a donkey by three men in Virginia and the arrest of a West Virginia man who was caught sexually molesting a sheep used in a Nativity scene.

Some animals, frightened and confused, have broken away from displays. Anyone who has ever been around donkeys knows that they view dogs as predators. Even after two years, my miniature donkey Sam still becomes fearful and agitated when he sees my seven-pound Chihuahua. So it came as no surprise when I read about an incident involving a Nativity display in Richmond, Virginia, in which dogs attacked and mauled two sheep, causing a terrified donkey to bolt into the street, where he was struck by a car. All three animals had to be euthanized. A camel named Ernie was also hit and killed by a car when he escaped from a Maryland churchyard.

Even if they aren’t hurt or killed, animals used in seasonal displays often live in a perpetual state of discomfort and stress. Like all donkeys, my Luna is naturally cautious and doesn’t like sudden movements or loud noises. Yet donkeys and other animals are carted from one event to the next and subjected to a constant barrage of unfamiliar noises, camera flashes and activity while strangers try to touch them. Donkeys also have a hard time seeing things directly in front of their noses, so the sudden thrust of a hand at their muzzle or between their ears can easily frighten them, causing them to bite or kick

There are also other dangers lurking in the manger. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that such displays put the public’s health at risk— and children are the most vulnerable to diseases including anthrax, salmonella, rabies, E. coli and ringworm. Infections are spread through direct contact with animals or even by simply touching the area surrounding an exhibit.

It doesn’t take a wise man or woman to see how quickly a season steeped in magic can turn tragic when live Nativity scenes are involved. I would never consider subjecting Sam or Luna to such a cruel spectacle.

And after watching this haunting video of Christmas present, I hope kind people will join me in refusing to patronize live-animal Nativity displays so that they can be relegated to Christmas past—where they belong.

Donkey basketball is ‘grade A’ cruelty

By Gemma Vaughan

Education has evolved over the years. Tablets have replaced composition books. Computer labs made typewriters obsolete. Many students wouldn’t recognize an overhead projector if they saw one. Given all the innovations and advances, why are some school districts still clinging to the antiquated tradition of forcing donkeys to “play” basketball in fundraisers?

Yes, you read that correctly: Students and faculty shoot hoops while riding donkeys supplied by a handful of companies that rent out these personable and intelligent animals like carnival equipment. During games, they are often pulled, kicked, screamed at or even hit by inexperienced riders who are more interested in putting on a show for spectators than in treating them with care.

Contrary to the common perception that donkeys are “stubborn,” they can best be described as cautious. They prefer routine and don’t adjust quickly to change. On the donkey basketball circuit, they’re loaded into tractor-trailers and hauled from one event to the next. Life on the road and being forced into one new environment after another is stressful for them. They repeatedly find themselves in gymnasiums surrounded by screaming kids, bullhorns and whistles. According to The Donkey Sanctuary in the U.K., an average-size donkey is not able to carry much more than 100 pounds, yet in most games, donkeys are forced to carry full-grown adults or teenagers.

Donkeys are specifically excluded from protection under the Animal Welfare Act and are afforded no federal protection whatsoever. And operators of traveling shows come and go quickly, so even if local authorities wanted to conduct inspections or take other action, the donkeys and their exhibitor might be long gone. Unlike horses, donkeys tend to hide their pain and may even continue to eat when they’re not feeling well, making signs of illness hard to detect.

Stressful and confusing situations can also make them skittish and unpredictable. A man in Waterloo, Illinois, was awarded more than $110,000 for injuries that he sustained in a donkey basketball game, and a Wisconsin state senator fell off a donkey during a game and broke her leg. In 2006, a Florida teacher sued the Diocese of St. Petersburg and the owner of the Dixie Donkey Ball company, claiming that she had sustained injuries after being thrown off a donkey at a fundraiser. In 2011, Grant Community High School District in Illinois ended donkey basketball games after its insurance carrier expressed concern for its liability. A district spokesperson said, “[I]t was time for it to end. … People fall off the donkeys and hit the floor pretty hard, not to mention some of the donkeys buck the players off.”

Supporting donkey basketball sends kids the message that forcing animals to perform stunts to entertain us is acceptable if it’s “for a good cause.” Child psychologists as well as top law-enforcement officials consider cruelty to animals a red flag that predicts future violent behavior; given schools’ responsibility for striving to maintain a zero-tolerance policy toward bullying, they should condemn all forms of cruelty, including cruelty to animals.

With so many innovative and humane ways to raise funds, schools that rely on animal exploitation in order to do so are failing their students.

Dear friends …

… For donkeys, horses, bullocks, and other animals in the sugar mill districts of India, one day’s work can be back-breaking — literally. But you can make a difference! Please become an Animal Rahat sponsor today and help bring desperately needed relief to working animals in India.

Animal Rahat is a unique lifesaving organization in India that was started with help from PETA. “Rahat” means “relief” — and that’s exactly what Animal Rahat provides to hardworking animals in India. The organization provides free veterinary care and respite to animals in desperate need.

Your desire to see an end to the abuse and mistreatment of animals around the world is what keeps us going. That’s why I want to make sure that you know about Animal Rahat’s lifesaving work for India’s animals.

The life of a working animal in India is filled with endless labor, suffering and sadness. India has one of the world’s poorest populations and is still dependent on animals for manual labor —especially in rural areas.

Bullocks, horses, camels and donkeys are forced to carry massive loads and pull heavy farm equipment using primitive and painful wooden yokes and crude harnesses that dig into their flesh. These animals often go an entire day without a drop of water as they toil in the burning heat and dust. Veterinary care — even for animals who are lame or dying — is often non-existent. Continue reading Dear friends …