When will the Sanctuary Farm re-open for visitors?
The COVID-19 outbreak and the resulting global state of emergency has created a new reality for all of us. Chances are, you’re dealing with many new challenges, both professionally and personally, just as we are at the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada (DSC).
With Ontario being in phase 3 of re-opening the province, the DSC has received some questions about when we’re opening our gates to visitors. It’s heartwarming to know that so many of our supporters are eager to see the donkeys again. The animals, volunteers and staff are eager to see you too.
Our commitment to the health and safety of our animals, our people and our community continues to be our top priority. There are many variables to consider when bringing visitors back to the farm to interact directly with the animals. We know that the virus can be spread through fomite surfaces so keeping all common surfaces disinfected is critical.
Animal fur and hair are considered fomite surfaces so if a person with the virus touches an animal, the next person who touches the animal could be at risk. DSC staff work closely together to ensure the smooth operations of the organization. If even one of our small group of staff were to become sick with COVID-19, it would create a domino effect that could significantly change the way the DSC operates and make the organization more susceptible to the fragile economic environment. Ultimately, it would have a significant negative impact on the welfare of the animals in our care. This is the scenario that we are trying to avoid by waiting and planning our health and safety regulations carefully.
The pandemic is changing the way we interact with each other individually, in groups and as a community. For now, the gates to the Sanctuary Farm are closed to volunteers and visitors and will remain closed until the end of August when we will reassess the situation. When we are able to welcome visitors back to the Sanctuary, it will be a different visiting experience than in the past.
These times will undoubtedly leave an enduring mark on all of us, but they’re also proving to be an opportunity for the community to come together. I want to take this opportunity to thank you, our incredible supporters for your unwavering commitment to the donkeys, mules and hinnies during these trying times. This a difficult situation and your encouragement has meant so much. We hope to re-open our gates soon and until then, please keep following us on social media and check our website at www.thedonkeysanctuary.ca to see the donkeys, and get the latest updates.
I wish you and your loved ones good health.
Important Information Before You Visit
There is SO much to do here at the DSC...
1. Meet the donkeys in their world and prepare to be charmed!
2.Brush a donkey and discover the wonder of connecting with one of these marvelous animals.
3. Watch a donkey care demonstration and learn more about the day-to-day lives of the donkeys.
4. Visit your sponsored donkey - if you've sponsored a donkey for $75.00 per year, you can visit him or her on Open Days.
5. Attend one of our Donkey Talks - scheduled on Open Days at 11AM and 1PM and learn about the donkeys, as well as about what is involved in their lifelong care at the DSC.
After you're done visiting the donkeys, we encourage you to take a hike on our Nature Trails, enjoy a picnic by the pond, and perhaps finish your day with a stop at the Long Ears Boutique.
Q: Do you charge admission?
A: Admission is given in the form of a donation at the front gate. We suggest $10 per person, including children. All funds we collect are used for the care of the animals, therefore, we appreciate a donation to the DSC when you come to visit. Donations can be made by cash, cheque, Visa, Mastercard or Debit.
Q: Do you require advance notice for visits from larger groups?
A: YES, it is very important for larger groups to give advance notice of their visit. For parties of 10 or more planning to attend on one of our Open Days (May through October on Sundays and Wednesdays in July and August only, 10am - 3pm), please call the day before your visit. If you would like to schedule a group tour on a different day, please call for more information. Please keep in mind that we do not have any parking to accomodate buses or RVs.
Q: Will I be able to explore the barnyard and paddock areas?
A: We invite you to walk down the lane (from the parking area) into the barn and barnyard areas, and to stay as long as you wish. DSC Staff and Volunteers will be on hand to cheerfully tell you about our work and to answer any questions.
Q: Will my children enjoy a visit to the DSC?
A: Absolutely. There is much for young people to enjoy at the DSC, as well as much for them to learn about the care and humane treatment of animals. We do request, however, that all children be under the direct supervision of an adult at all times. It is difficult for the animals to see little bodies. In addition, please note that strollers and wagons are not permitted in the barnyard area.
Q: May I bring my dog when I visit?
A: Dogs are permitted only in the picnic and parking areas and trails, and must be on a lead at all times. Dogs are not permitted in the barn or barnyard areas. If you visit with a group of people and choose to bring your dog, a member of your party will be asked to stay with your dog outside the barnyard areas. Please do not leave your pet in a hot car.
Q: What is appropriate footwear for my visit to the Sanctuary?
A: You will be in a barnyard setting with loose animals, and you may encounter wet and/or uneven terrain. We suggest that you wear close-toed shoes, ideally boots or sneakers.
Q: What should I wear/bring with me?
A: The DSC is a working farm, so come prepared for an outdoor experience: we recommend sunscreen, insect repellent, and appropriate clothing for the weather. If you have outdoor allergies (pollen, animal dander, bees, etc.) come prepared to treat these if necessary.
Q: Will I be able to feed the animals?
A: No, please do not attempt to feed the donkeys or mules, as it encourages them to expect treats from everyone, and may cause them to nip at people. As well, equines as a rule have a hard time distinguishing between carrots and fingers - we'll leave it to you to imagine the risk involved.
Q: May I bring treats for the animals?
A: No, our animals are on very strict diets, and treats such as carrots and apples are given sparingly. If you'd like to bring gifts for the donkeys, we always have a use for supplies such as heavy-duty duct tape (a farm staple) white vinegar, and other stable supplies.
Q: Can I/my children ride the donkeys?
A: No, our sanctuary serves as a safe place for our animals, and for that reason, our donkeys are never ridden. Concerns about physical and emotional impact on the donkeys, as well as visitor safety, make the DSC an unsuitable facility for donkey riding.
Q: Can I bring a picnic and stay for the afternoon?
A: Certainly - we have picnic tables available, which overlook the pond. And of course, you may spread your picnic blanket on the hillside if that's more your fancy. However, for insurance reasons, there is no swimming or wading and please do not use the private dock.
Q: Are there trails to explore at the Sanctuary?
A: Yes! Our walking trails are located in the northerly section of the Farm. Note that the trails are not paved and in some sections there will be climbing involved. The Ring Walk is the most level of the trails.
Q: Will I be able to take home some kind of memento of my visit?
A: We do hope so - visit our Long Ears Boutique to discover lots of interesting and wonderful donkey-related, and DSC-related items for sale. All proceeds from items purchased in the boutique of course go toward the care of the animals. You can pay by cash, cheque, Debit, VISA or MasterCard.
Q: If I can't come on a scheduled Open Day, can I just drop by for a visit on another day? (I promise not to be a nuisance.)
A: The DSC is a working farm, and to keep costs down (so we can spend more on the animals) we have only a few staff members. They have a lot of work to do each day, giving medications, cleaning the barnyard, and attending to the animals' needs. On days we’re not open to the public, we use the time for private tours, haying, farm maintenance, veterinary and farrier treatments, and other big jobs, and we like to be able to do so uninterrupted. The farm is also home for two private residences. Please respect their privacy and our hours of operation.
Q: What do I do if I suspect a donkey/mule is being abused or neglected?
A: Contact the OSPCA by calling 310-SPCA or 1-888-668-7722 ext. 327. You can also email email@example.com or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), your local Ontario SPCA Animal Centre, Affliated SPCA, Humane Society, or the Police.
We accept your admission in the form of a donation at our front gate. We suggest $10 per person, including children. If you wish a tax receipt for any donations over $25, please see the staff in the Long Ears Boutique.
Visiting the donkeys can be fun and educational. However, it is important that you take steps to ensure your visit is safe and healthy. You will be visiting with loose donkeys that are friendly and like to interact with people. However, they are large animals who can act unpredictably and you need to be diligent. All persons entering the property and facilities do so at their own risk and choose to do so under these conditions. No liability for loss, injury or damage will be accepted by The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada.
INCLEMENT WEATHER: We may need to close temporarily during severe weather conditions such as lightening storms, floods, tornados. As soon as conditions permit safe operation, we will re-open.
VISITOR CONDUCT: Any behaviour that disrupts another visitor's or employee’s enjoyment or safety at The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada and/or non-compliance of its Farm Visit Rules could result in the violator being asked to leave with no refund of their donation.
ALLERGIES: If you have allergic reactions to bee stings, hay, pollen etc., please come prepared to treat them if necessary. The Donkey Sanctuary is NOT a nut free environment.
FARM VISIT RULES
Your health and safety are our priorities. Please read the "Farm Visit Rules" below and talk to your children before your visit.
- Visitors must enter via the Welcome Centre and/or Long Ears Boutique where they need to hear a brief safety talk.
- No alcoholic beverages are permitted on Open Day or during Tours.
- SMOKING/VAPING is permitted only in the designated smoking area found in the parking area. NO SMOKING/VAPING is permitted in any structure, the picnic areas, trails or around the animals.
- Do not leave children unattended anywhere. Supervise children at all times. Caregivers are responsible for their charges.
- Per Wellington County Health Department regulations, wagons, backpacks, strollers/car seats/infant carriers are not permitted in the barnyard. Visitors with strollers and wagons will be directed to park them in the Stroller Parking area at the Welcome Centre. Please secure your stroller/wagon and its contents as The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada is not responsible for their loss. We recommend that you bring your own sling to carry infants.
- Per Wellington County Health Department regulations, no sippy cups, soothers, food, drink or toys are permitted in areas where you interact with the donkeys and mules.
- Do not climb on hay, straw, farm equipment, fences, rails or gates.
- Wash your hands after your visit with the donkeys.
- To ensure the health and safety of our visitors, pets, our animals and other visitors, The Donkey Sanctuary does not permit pets of any kind in the farm area. A member of your party needs to stay with your pet while you interact with the donkeys. Please DO NOT LEAVE PETS IN VEHICLES on hot days. Leashed pets are welcome ONLY on the woodland trails and the picnic area. Please pick up after your pets – disposal bags are located in the picnic area and beside the Welcome Centre.
- Certified Service animals are welcome on the property, however they are not permitted around loose donkeys. A DSC staff member or volunteer will watch your service animal while you interact with the donkeys.
Safety Around the Donkeys and Mules
- Approach the donkeys from the side. Never approach or stand in front or behind donkeys. When brushing the donkeys, keep your brush strokes along their sides.
- Limit the number of people around one donkey to 4 or 5 so as not to overwhelm him/her.
- Walk slowly. DO NOT RUN where the donkeys are loose.
- Talk softly.
- Do not pull donkeys by their collars, manes or tails.
- Do not try to ride the donkeys or place children on their backs.
- Do not feed the donkeys or mules. Please keep your hands away from their mouths – fingers can be mistaken for carrots.
- If a donkey walks away from you, do not chase the donkey. Find another donkey who is more eager to be petted or brushed.
The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada has developed the following Accessible Customer Service Plan to assist with providing goods and services to people with disabilities.
The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada (DSC) is committed to excellence in serving all visitors, including those with disabilities.
Information about accessibility to the DSC’s programs, facilities, goods and services will be available on the accessibility page of the DSC’s website. This information also will be provided to people who call or email for information.
We will ensure that our staff are trained and familiar with various assistive devices that may be used by visitors with disabilities while accessing our goods or services.
We will attempt to improve accessibility to the DSC’s grounds and facilities where practical and possible, and will strive to provide alternatives in those cases where areas are not accessible to those using assistive devices.
We will communicate with people with disabilities in ways that take into account their disabilities.
We welcome people with disabilities and their service animals. Service animals are allowed on the parts of our premises that are open to the public, with the exception of areas where donkeys are loose. Please note that while we do allow service animals, we do not allow guide dogs in training.
We will strive to offer reasonable alternatives for persons requiring assistance from service animals, with consideration for safety given priority.
A person with a disability who is accompanied by a support person will be allowed to have that person accompany them on our premises.
- On Open Days, admission is by donation: a person with a disability and their support person may make a voluntary donation if they wish to do so, but admission fees are not required to access our premises.
Notice of Temporary Disruption
In the event of a planned or unexpected disruption to services or facilities for visitors with disabilities, we will notify visitors promptly. Notice will be posted at the barnyard entrance. Notice will be posted on our website, including information about the reason for the disruption, its anticipated length of time, and a description of alternative facilities or services, if available.
We will provide training to employees, volunteers and others who deal with the public or other third parties on their behalf. Individuals in the following positions will be trained:
- All full and part time staff
- All volunteers
- DSC Board members
- Third party contractors who will engage with members of the public on the DSC’s behalf
Training will include:
- An overview of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 and the requirements of the customer service standard.
- The DSC’s plan related to the customer service standard.
- How to interact with people with disabilities who use an assistive device or require the assistance of a service animal or a support person.
- How to access facilities available on-site or otherwise that may help with providing goods or services to people with disabilities.
- What to do if a person with a disability is having difficulty in accessing the DSC’s goods and services.
Staff will also be trained when changes are made to the plan.
Customers who wish to provide feedback on the way the DSC provides goods and services to people with disabilities can do so by email, verbally in person and verbally over the phone. In addition, a feedback form will be made available for download from the website, and copies will be available at the Welcome Centre on Open Days.
All feedback will be directed to the Operations Manager, and complaints will be addressed according to the DSC’s regular complaint management procedures.
Visitors can expect to hear back in 2-7 business days.
Modifications to this or other policies
Any policy of The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada that does not respect and promote the dignity and independence of people with disabilities will be modified or removed.
Visitor Feedback Form (PDF)
Compassion and respect for people, animals and the rest of the natural world are vital, as is the recognition of the interdependence of all living things. A visit to the Sanctuary encourages visitors of all ages, either singly or in groups, to appreciate these principles firsthand.
The Learning Centre, with its interactive displays, has been developed so that everyone can better understand donkeys, mules and hinnies, and the natural world in which they live.
The walk around Wild Duck Marsh, on our Interactive Trail, is a great opportunity to experience in depth this complex, fascinating wetland environment.
Donkey Talks, held twice per day on every Open Day, are lively dialogues meant to acquaint visitors with the inner workings of the Sanctuary, along with some of the many stories about the animals in our care and the lives they have lived.
And especially for Teachers and their Classes:
Class Sponsorships (at $75/year) are a great way to get to know the donkeys, mules and hinnies in their special world. A Sponsorship means that help will be given towards the costs of care of a donkey, mule or hinny for one year. In return for this special help, we will send along a photo and biography of the chosen animal, along with our promise to answer each and every question that the students might have, either by email, post, or in person!
We encourage teachers and students - kindergarten through grade six - to look into our Humane Education Worksheets (PDF files can be found in our document library). Although they use donkeys as the focus animal through which to teach, respect for all animals, people and the rest of the natural world is the broader lens of our instruction.
The worksheets deal with language arts, visual arts, and math, as well as general animal appreciation and humane care.
Special Needs Classes
The Sanctuary offers unique opportunities to people with special needs and sessions are tailored to the abilities of the students or adults involved. Elements of a visit include:
*Please note that the trails are not paved or groomed so terrain may be uneven and challenging for some people and wheelchairs.
- Hands-on, interactive experience with the donkeys.
- Guided and self-guided trail walks*
- A tranquil setting for reflection and relaxation
- Wheelchair accessibility in the barnyard, picnic area and some trails*
The Donkey Sanctuary welcomes groups to come for a guided tour of our facility. Learn about the history of the Sanctuary, the work we do with the animals, the special nature of donkeys. Tours may be arranged from May through October. A Sanctuary guide will be there to greet you, tell you about the DSC and guide you on your tour. Please follow the links to the pdf files below for more information about Group Tours. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about tour costs.
Special Interest Groups
Should you feel the Sanctuary would be of interest to your group we would love to have you visit us. We will try our best to accommodate your particular interest in a manner best suited to your needs. Some special interest groups who have visited us in the past include:
Photography Clubs, HIkers, Cubs & Beavers, Animal Enthusiasts, Equine Lovers, Youth Camps, Artists, Nature Lovers, Youth Clubs
Please send an email to email@example.com for more information about our Humane Education programs, sponsorships, group visits and special tours.
We look forward to welcoming you.
Tour Information Package (PDF)