The “Great Donkey Heist” begins today. All 12 are all patiently waiting to board the “ERN BUS” and drive off the killpen and on to greener pastures. They will arrive Late tonight in Virginia at ERN’s quarantine barn. On Friday, our volunteers will take individual pictures, assess their current temperament, gender, health and size. We will then upload the photos and descriptions over the weekend to the ERN Homes Needed page. The plan is to place some donkeys in Virginia and bring the rest up to Massachusetts. This way we can maximize the spread of donkey love up and down the east coast.
Although I am a big fan of donkeys, it is important to note ERN is not just donkeys. This week includes a complicated logistical plan to move horses from Arkansas to Bastrop, Bastrop to Virginia, Bastrop to Kaufman AND Kaufman to Bastrop. Confused? Yes, we are slightly confused too.
SO here’s the plan, and keep in mind best-laid-plans often go awry…
We have two horses that were rescued from the Kaufman Killpen that are headed to a home in Maryland. A 4 year old dun quarter horse and a Paint Gelding will travel from Kaufman to Bastrop while at the same time we have a Grey Arabian that will travel from Bastrop to Kaufman to the ERN quarantine barn in Texas where we just dropped off a 12 year old palomino mare. The 5 year old dapple grey Arabian gelding will be dropped off at the Kaufman killpen only to be immediately picked up by the transport trailer who will take him to the QT barn. The Arabian will stay in Texas for at least 30 days before he makes his final journey to a permanent home in California.
Still confused? Oh wait there’s more…
Unfortunately the Dun gelding and the Paint will not make this trip to Virginia, but will stay in quarantine in Bastrop until the next ERN BUS in 10 days.
The “ERN BUS” is a massive 53 foot stock trailer used to haul cattle down south. The cattle are dropped off, the trailer is cleaned, new shavings applied and rescued horses are loaded into 6 separate 8 foot sections.
The sections on the trailer are carefully planned to maximize the number of horses/donkeys we save but also to consider the safety and emotional well-being of the occupants. We understand that some horses are bonded and need to be in close proximity during the trip or they will implode causing damage to themselves and those around them. While other horses will kill each other if they are in close proximity. And donkeys, well they really don’t care about the details of the trip. They just want a ride out of the awful place and away from the awful people.
Below is the assigned seating plan for the ERN BUS this week.
- Section One and Section Two is all donkeys plus one weanling (Tag #45). There are 13 in total. 9 mini jennys, 2 mini jacks, one 11 hand standard donkey, and a weanling foal. Young horses tend to mix well with donkeys as they need the emotional support from the donkeys who appear calm and resigned to the situation. While the opposite is true for older horses. You can’t mix older horses with donkeys and expect safe outcomes for the donkey.
Donkeys are very smart animals – much smarter than horses. The donkeys we rescue know that they are in a bad place and are very respectful in our effort to get them out. They all load willingly on to the trailer, and don’t mind being stuffed into a small space together. They don’t argue or fight with one another. They huddle together terrified but hopeful. When you peer into the trailer you will see it looks like the rescue equivalent of a Circus-Clown-Car. Getting donkeys off a farm where they are happy and safe is not so easy. As I mentioned, donkeys are smart.
- Section Three. A black mare and chestnut foal. The chestnut foal originally appeared to belong to the black mother, but now from the recent photos we are unsure, perhaps it is the paints? We will figure out who belongs to whom when they unload at the quarantined in Louisa, Virginia. They are scheduled to go to Spotsylvania Virginia with an ERN rescuer who will rehab, retrain and rehome.
- Section Four. A paint mare and palomino foal. They will be quarantined in Louisa, Virginia then moved to their new home in Defiance Virginia with ERN approved home.
- Section Five and Six will contain 8 weanlings that will go to Louisa, Virginia to rest & recover before going to their 8 new homes. It will also contain one small pony-sized bay mare that will go to a rescue in Virginia.
Everything that arrives at an ERN quarantine barn receives a shot of exceed (antibiotics) and ivermectin (wormer) as a precaution. ERN pays $125 to transport a donkey from Bastrop to Virginia and $250 to transport a horse. In addition, we pay $5 a day for donkeys and $10 a day to quarantine.
We try to find homes FIRST before we rescue any horse. If the home offer comes from a 501c3 nonprofit horse rescue, ERN will pay the rescue costs. If it is an individual home, we encourage the home to pay for the costs but often find rescuers who have the land, ability and expertise to manage a rescue, don’t always have the cash flow. In these cases, it is either ERN steps in or the horse goes to Mexico. We confirm that the new home will be responsible for the the long-term care costs for the horse and we compromise and split the initial expenses.
ERN does rescue donkeys without homes lined up because we can place any donkey regardless if it is big, small, black, grey, gelded, not-gelded, pregnant, not-pregnant, handled, or un-handled (and let’s face it – no donkey is halter broke if you ask them to go somewhere they don’t want to go). Donkeys ALL turn out to be nice, friendly and a colorful addition to any barn, farmyard or backyard.
If we have horses and donkeys looking for homes, ERN asks adopters to fill-out an application form and become approved. We do not ask for a specific donation, but rather a “Pay-it-forward” donation which helps us cover costs and go back and rescue more. We recognize a generous donation is nice, but a great home is what is most important. Some give a great home and $50; while others give a good home and $500. Either way it’s ALL GOOD and the ERN bus keeps rolling on towards greener pastures.