Donkeys on Duty! Albert and Yankee Get New Jobs and Second Chances
Horse owners often have far fewer options than cat and dog owners when they need help caring for or re-homing their animals due to financial or other life changes. Because rehoming options can be limited, equines are at risk. The ASPCA Regional Support Center is a pilot program in Oklahoma City that is bridging the gap by providing owners a safe place to receive help or surrender their horses. After health assessments, surrendered horses are transferred to an ASPCA Rehoming Partner and made available for adoption.
Horses were an important part of her childhood, but like many, Jana had to make the hard choice to give up her equestrian activities when she went to college. Now, she is surrounded by a different kind of four-legged animal: Jana and her husband are third-generation ranchers who have spent their lives loving and caring for the cattle on their 600-acre Oklahoma ranch.
But this past year has been hard; an animal predator had been attacking their herd and they lost an unprecedented number of animals. Despite numerous attempts to keep her cattle safe, Jana kept hitting dead ends—until she remembered that one of her friends had used donkeys to guard their cattle. Ranchers will occasionally put donkeys out with their cattle to protect them from invaders like coyotes.
Jana initially planned to purchase a donkey, but she kept feeling a pull to look at her local horse rescues first. She believes strongly in rescue and adoption when it comes to dogs. If she would consider adopting dogs, she reasoned, why wouldn’t she consider adopting a horse or donkey? That question led her to an ASPCA equine rehoming partner, Nexus Equine, in Oklahoma City.
During her search for the right donkey, Jana kept telling herself she would know when she found the one. As it would turn out, she did find the right one—in fact, the right two! Albert and Yankee were a bonded pair surrendered to Nexus Equine through the ASPCA Regional Support Center and were looking for a new home.
Often, when a horse or donkey is being rehomed it’s due to a change in their owner’s life circumstances. Albert and Yankee’s owner made the hard decisions to rehome the pair of donkeys as she faced a life-threatening medical battle. Between her medical costs and treatments, she was looking to find a safe place to surrender Albert and Yankee when she found out about our Regional Support Center.
Albert and Yankee were sweet and kind, and Jana instantly knew that she had found the perfect donkeys for her ranch.
Dedicated to the wellbeing of her animals, Jana worked closely with Nexus Equine’s Director of Operations, Jessica Gleason, to make sure she was ready for Albert and Yankee to come home. Jana quickly realized that the protein and mineral supplements she provided to her cattle would not be safe for her new donkeys. Since the donkeys and cattle would share the 600-acre ranch, meeting their diverse nutritional needs was key. With Nexus Equine’s advice, Jana was able to adjust her feeding program to keep all the members of her growing herd healthy.
When the day finally arrived to bring her two new donkeys home, only one hurdle remained. The team at Nexus Equine had warned them that, although they were incredibly sweet and loving, Albert and Yankee didn’t like traveling and were very difficult to load into a horse trailer.
They needn’t have worried—Albert and Yankee let their new family know that this adoption was simply meant to be. Albert walked up to the trailer and jumped in without hesitation. Yankee started pulling on Jana, and without missing a stride, also hopped onto the trailer that would take him home.
“At this point, the girls from Nexus Equine were laughing. They told us ‘they already loved you and wanted to go home with you,’” said Jana.
What did Albert and Yankee think of their new bovine friends? The donkeys didn’t miss a beat—the cattle, however, were initially terrified of their new companions. Happily, the two herds quickly sorted it out, and Albert and Yankee instantly started exploring their new home. It didn’t take long for the pair to find the nicest sandy dirt patch, perfect for rolling and sunbathing in. They also quickly adapted to their new schedule and learned to come in and out with the cows.
Jana could not be more thrilled with Albert and Yankee. Albert, in particular, loves greeting her for back scratches and enjoys the 2 lb. of carrots she shares with them during each visit.
What’s next for the dynamic donkey duo? Jana has a granddaughter in Texas who is eagerly awaiting her turn to visit the ranch’s new occupants. A donkey- and horse-lover by nature, their new young fan thinks they are “all that and a bag of chips” and can’t wait to share in the carrot-feeding duties.
The concept of rescuing and adopting horses is still relatively uncommon among horse people. Jana is doing her part and sharing her positive experience with her horseback-riding friends.
“They are just so sweet and are already part of the family. This was meant to be. I want these boys to have as good of a life as I can give them. I believe in rescuing, and this was something we thought would be a great addition. Plus, now that they are home with us, Nexus has room to help more animals. It’s just a win-win-win,” Jana shared.
Endless acres, a daily delivery of treats, carrots and scratches. We think it’s safe to say that these two on-duty donkeys are living their dream with a family that loves them.
Looking to find an equine companion of your own? Visit myrighthorse.org to browse hundreds of donkeys, horses and ponies available for adoption or fostering. Your right horse is out there!