When Amy Bayes of Greenwood Stables found out donkeys were being slaughtered for medicinal and makeup use in China, she decided save any she could.
“My son has been to China twice this year and he’s seen it himself,” she said. “It’s such a mess.”
The timing of the rescues, around Christmas, when donkeys are included in Nativities, is merely a coincidence, Bayes said.
While she rescues horses more often, Bayes said there are practical advantages to helping donkeys.
“I should just be a donkey rescuer,” she said. “They’ll eat anything and will be just fine. With horses, if you even think about changing their food, they’ll curl up and die, and lose weight at the drop of a hat.”
The animals’ protective nature could be a boon to many owners, Bayes said.
“They’re very good for attacking coyotes,” she said. “They consider the cows their herd, so they’re protecting their herd.”
Bayes deals primarily in saving horses destined for kill pens, but she has already found new homes for six donkeys over the last two weeks.
“I got homes for all the ones that were going to ship, and there’s already another shipment coming in today,” she said.
Bayes originally heard about the issue two years ago, but said she was skeptical at the time.
“I just never thought it was going to come to this so quickly,” she said.
The donkey incidents are difficult to regulate because they occur outside the U.S., Bayes said.
“It’s almost worse than the slaughter because they don’t feed them,” she said. “They can be almost dead.”
Additionally, regulations tend to be lax because the animals are not being used for their meat, Bayes said.
“All they want is the skin,” she said. “The gelatin in the skin is what they want. It’s almost worse than slaughter because there are rules to slaughter, in some ways. It’s horrendous.”