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Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land

Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land is an excellent organisation that helps to care for the donkeys and horses of Israel and Palestine. Led by Lucy Fensom, Safe Haven provides veterinary care as well as a home for these poor animals that are treated appallingly. This care is administered both at a fixed unit based in Qalqilya, Palestine and a mobile clinic.

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Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land has for many years been supported by Animal Friends Insurance to help with the care of the horses, mules and donkeys they rescue from the streets such as Alby, Luigi, Moonbean, Patience and Zahra. Each month we donate funds to the equine charity to help with the cost of running the veterinary clinic in the Palestinian town of Qalqilya, which is a vital part of the charity’s work.

Since the clinic has been running over 10,000 working equines have received desperately needed treatment. The clinic operates 24 hours a day for emergency first aid treatment as well as providing regular free veterinary sessions, education days for the locals and temporary hospitalisation for any working animal in need to prevent the pain, agony and distress from on-going.  Any equines that are too old or ill to return to work can then be taken to Safe Haven’s sanctuary near the Israeli town of Netanya.

The educational programmes they provide for the owners and clinics for the working horses have reduced numbers of mistreated and injured animals over the years, for those who encounter such hardships the care and treatment will continue. The purpose of the charity is to ensure that the owners know how to care for their donkeys and only go to them in times of need.

A case that occurred over 5 years ago with Burnie the donkey is an example of this. Lucy Fensom the Founder and field director received a phone call about a stray donkey in the Palestinian village of Immaten.  Arriving to collect the donkey, she was horrified to find him covered in burns; you can see these injuries from the picture. The man who thankfully alerted Lucy to the donkey’s plight informed her that some days previously, a boy had deliberately doused the poor animal with petrol and set him alight as the donkey had wondered onto their land, meaning that the donkey had been left suffering.

Burnie, as Lucy named him to remind everyone what he had been through, was so frightened that he was visibly shaking and it took some time for Lucy to coax him into the horsebox. When the poor little donkey arrived at the sanctuary, the extent of his injuries soon became clear, his whole back and abdomen had 3rd degree burns.

Burnie was put into a separate enclosure so the other donkeys didn’t accidentally knock his fragile skin and Lucy and her team immediately set to work to begin treating his terrible injuries. Every day for several months, Burnie’s bandages would be removed and the wounds treated with fluid antibiotic and 100% pure honey. They used honey on the burn wounds as it kills many antibiotic-resistant organisms and helps heal fast, also creating an extra layer preventing infections from occurring and keeping the skin resilient and soft. As Burnie’s skin begin to heal, the tissues became obviously itchy form him and so a special head collar was improvised from a bucket to stop him biting at himself.

Just over five years on, Burnie is like a different donkey. Tufts of fur have grown back and although he still lives in an enclosure of his own to protect him from the boisterous members of the donkey herd, he enjoys being near the entrance to the sanctuary, greeting visitors with a bray and a nuzzle.  He is also taken for a daily walk alongside Lucy’s dog Cadbury and seems to think he is a very large dog himself.

The case of Burnie and all the other donkeys, mules and horses rescued and in the care of Safe Haven is sentiment to the hard work this charity puts in. Animal Friends are pleased to support Safe Haven and many other animal charities worldwide to continue to support the care and rehabilitation of animals.

Since the first donkey was rescued in 2001 by Lucy, Safe Haven have worked hard to ensure that donkeys are cared for properly by their owners, they have a saying which is included on the sign that hangs over the centre, which was paid for by Animal Friends, “If you look after your donkey then your donkey will look after you.” Some 12 years on and they are still working hard to help all working equines in need.

One of the most inspiring and heart-lifting things Lucy has heard recently, told by Khaled, who is in charge of the Qalqilya clinic is that “There are no longer horses and donkeys dying daily in Qalqilya”.  Those that do occasionally need to go are humanely euthanized at the clinic by one of the charity’s vets. To hear this statement is a real testament to all that Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land has achieved, their hard work and education provided by volunteers is working. We will continue to help Safe Haven for donkeys in the holy land with monthly donations to ensure the care and support for the equines in this area is continued.





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