What happens when an animal rescue fails?

Who rescues the rescue? In this case, it was a team effort. The Spirit of the Hills Wildlife Sanctuary in Spearfish, South Dakota, was investigated by the US Department of Agriculture after sanctuary volunteers contacted the agency about the substandard conditions of the animals. The USDA found hundreds of animals on the property including tigers, wolves, bears, lions, birds of prey, exotic parrots, and domestic animals such as dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, sheep, pigs and fowl. Most were in dirty enclosures filled with feces. The facility had only one staff member who was hospitalized after being attacked by a tiger, leaving no staff to care for the animals. In order to avoid fines, Spirit of the Hills agreed to surrender some of the animals and their USDA license.

Local South Dakota shelters accepted the cats and dogs, but there were still hundreds of animals with no place to go. Animal rescues around the country collaborated to relocate the animals.

Longhopes volunteers Kathy and Chuck drove to South Dakota with two trucks and trailers and returned with eight donkeys and one mule. They arrived safely at Longhopes on Saturday, November 5th. Each of the nine animals needs the full gamut of care including deworming, vaccinations, dental floats, hoof rehabilitation and basic training. None of them had been receiving regular hoof trims, and many of their hooves are severely overgrown.  One of the donkeys, Bigsby, was living with goats instead of the other donkeys because the Sanctuary had not castrated him. Within four days of his arrival, Longhopes castrated Bigsby and provided him dental and hoof care. He is now happily living with other donkeys and is ready for a new home.

In Kathy’s words, “There is sometimes a fine line between an animal rescuer and a hoarder of animals. The difference is that legitimate rescues do not accept animals beyond their resources for proper care. We are grateful we had the space to take in these Spirit animals when they needed us the most.”

As you can imagine, the costs of this rescue have added up quickly. If you would like to donate to help, you can do so right here.

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Bigsby was kept separated from the other donkeys because he had not been castrated.

The corrals in South Dakota were piled with manure.

All of the donkeys had overgrown hooves, some severely.

Schroeder and Bigsby enjoy a fresh meal after arriving at Longhopes.

The Spirit herd gets used to its new accommodations.