Our Story

The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada was founded in August 1992 by Sandra Pady in Puslinch, Ontario with the vision of creating a sanctuary where donkeys, mules and hinnies could live free from neglect and abuse.

The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada was registered as a charity in August, 1992. The origins began a couple of years earlier when circumstances led Sandra to care for three donkeys. From the first day that Riley, Bronwyn and Apache trotted into her life, Sandra was captivated. She could not get enough of the donkeys’ gentle stillness and soothing, restful presence, and found herself spending more and more time with them.
The Sanctuary's first donkey
Sandra’s first opportunity to rescue a donkey came unexpectedly. A neighbouring farmer had bought a donkey to guard a herd of goats. When the little donkey proved to be an ineffective guardian, the farmer saw no use for him and confined him to a stall, where he remained, lonely and despondent.

When Sandra learned about the donkey, she arranged to purchase him. Thus, Sebastian became the first donkey to be rescued by what was to become the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada (DSC).
Making international connections
Though initially, Sandra had not considered the possibility of their farm becoming a sanctuary. It was only after friends mentioned there were several donkey sanctuaries in England that she started to research them and to write letters requesting information.

Dr. Elizabeth Svendsen, founder of The Donkey Sanctuary in Great Britain - the world’s largest donkey sanctuary - replied immediately to Sandra’s queries, encouraging her to start a sanctuary in Canada. In addition, Dr. Svendsen provided helpful advice about organization and fundraising.

Our Mission

To provide a lifelong home to donkeys, mules and hinnies who are unwanted, neglected or abused, or whose owners can no longer care for them; and to promote the responsible stewardship of all animals through humane education.

Our Vision

We envision a world in which the dignity and worth of all creatures are recognized and respected.

Our Charter

We grant to every animal admitted:

  • peace, freedom and protection
  • the best possible care and medical attention
  • the right to life regardless of age or condition
  • a dignified, peaceful death, induced only in the event of extreme suffering or the loss of quality of life

We work to uphold the five freedoms:

  • freedom from hunger and thirst
  • freedom from discomfort
  • freedom from pain
  • freedom to express normal behaviour
  • freedom from fear and distress

We’re GFAS-Accredited! 

Learn more about what this means and why it is important to the donkeys and our supporters!

The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada was the recipient of the GFAS 2023 Outstanding Equine Sanctuary Award.

On September 28, 2017, The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada became the first equine sanctuary in Canada to have received accreditation from The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS).

GFAS is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to supporting and strengthening the work of animal sanctuaries, rescues, and rehabilitation centers across the world. It is the only globally recognized organization to provide validation of quality animal sanctuaries through a thorough evaluation process.

To be granted an accreditation by GFAS, sanctuaries must meet rigorous standards in regards to housing, nutrition requirements, veterinary care, well-being of animals, adoption and fostering and rescue policies.

We are proud to be the first-ever Canadian equine sanctuary to be granted accreditation. It demonstrates our commitment to providing the highest standards of care for all of our donkeys, mules and hinnies. It also demonstrates our responsible administration of the charity through strict governance policies and expertise in the management of operations.

DSC Organization Info

Board of Directors

Chair:  Sandra Pady
Vice Chair:  Katharin Harkins katharinharkins@gmail.com

Treasurer: Michael M. Dawe mmdawe13@gmail.com
Secretary:  Sheila Zanyk skzanyk@gmail.com


Doug Brock

Valerie Gibaut

Rukhsar Jaffer

Doug Morris

Ex Officio: Janine Holman, Executive Director

Founder: Sandra Pady


The Board of Directors is committed to transparency and accountability, and we warmly welcome your questions and comments.  info@thedonkeysanctuary.ca



Janine Holman


Kayla Johnson

Animal Welfare and
Education Manager

Martina Brown

Donor Care

Jessie Doxey

Animal Health

Grace Sant

Lead Trainer and
Animal Care

Julia Casey

Animal Care
Assistant (part-time)

Teagan Bridges

Animal Care

Sydney Topfer

Animal Care Assistant
Photo of a woman with a donkey grazing behind her in a field

Dale Gellatly

Fund Development and
Communications Lead

Lyse van Arragon

Retail, Volunteer and Events Manager

Lori Parcells

Office Coordinator


To achieve our mission, we rely on the generous support of individuals like you, who share our commitment to donkeys. Your donations could help rescue a donkey who is experiencing neglect, a mule who has never felt a gentle human hand, or teach equine caretakers the difference between a donkey and a horse so they can help donkeys thrive in different environments.