Horse News

Heroic Donkey Keeps Buddies Calm And Safe In CO Wildfire

by as published on Care2

“She pretty much takes care of the other donkey and horses…”

A take-charge donkey named Ellie is credited with saving three horses and another donkey from the wildfire burning in Fort Collins, CO after the couple boarding them was forced to evacuate.

When the flames from the latest Colorado wildfire burned into the town of Paradise Park on Saturday afternoon, the residents were told to immediately evacuate. This included Mike and Sharon Guli who run an equine boarding facility.

Before leaving, the couple put 5-year-old Ellie, four draft horses and another donkey into an open pasture.

They called Ellie’s owners, Greg and Michele Van Hare, to see if they get to the boarding facility with a trailer for the animals; but by the time they made it to the town access to the area had been closed.

Greg Van Hare told his wife and children “we’re going to trust in God” and tried to prepare them for the loss of the animals.

On Tuesday, the family got a surprise call from Mike and Sharon. Sheriff’s deputies and volunteers found five of the six animals grouped together in the same pasture where they had been left. They told the family that when help arrived, “Ellie walked right up to one of the rescuers and put her head against his chest.”

The rescuers were convinced that Ellie, a “very smart donkey” who often leads the other animals and takes charge of situations with them, had kept her buddies calm and close during the three day ordeal.

“Ellie doesn’t put up with crud,” said Van Hare while he was describing an incident Ellie had with a couple of stallions. “She put her ears back and started walking toward them. She got about 10 feet away, and the stallions turned and left.”

The last horse was also found alive, but it had wandered into a nearby pasture.

All of the animals were transported to the Larimer County Fairgrounds where they were examined by veterinarians from Colorado State University. More than 150 horses, 150 alpacas and llamas, donkeys, sheep, goats and calves have been brought to the fairgrounds this week, after being displaced by the High Park fire.

Overall the horses and donkeys in Ellie’s care, weathered the fire without any serious injuries. Ellie’s nose and coat were singed by the flames, but didn’t need any treatment. The tails of the four horses had curled from the extreme heat.

Veterinarian Brian Miller explained Ellie’s heroic actions to keep her friends safe as pure instinct. Mike Guli said it was more than that.

“Over the years, I’ve seen her do such amazing things. She pretty much takes care of the other donkey and horses. She’s in charge,” said Guli.

Ellie and her companions are now safe on the Van Hare ranch.

10 replies »

  1. We have so much to learn from all the animals, they are departmental to all of us, we are appointed care takers and they even help us there. lives most precious moments are shared with them…… Just think about it for a moment???? Isnt it a shame that not all of us have the ability to experience this absolutely wonderful……joyful feeling !!!!! beautiful meaningful changes in our lives occur daily with them………………………… It is said stop and smell the roses, I say stop and love the animals !!!!


  2. This story beautifully illustrates why so many of us are willing and committed to do whatever it takes to protect these noble, courageous, servants and partners of man.


  3. This story is a good feeling, BUT…..

    The equines they board have some brains.

    The humans that own and care for them have some brains.

    Ellie is an asset, but when fire hits, God only knows what can happen. (Did the pasture burn? The facilities burn down? The roads were closed but the humans got out? Hmmmmmm….)

    Given the proper human involvement, equines are spectacular at survival….wild or domestic equines.

    Whatever, they made it and had an opportunity to make their own decisions.

    Burros, mules and horses still continue to amaze the ignorant human race.

    I’m not dis’n this event. It is good news. I’m realistic and understand all the parts of events.

    Congratulations to the survivors.


  4. What a wonderful ending to what could have been a real tragedy. Animals are smarter than many people give them credit for, in my opinion. They’re incredible creatures and it’s up to the human race to protect them from harm.


  5. So the humans left it in god’s hands. So glad the equines and other animals made it alive with only a bit of tail being singed.


  6. Horse Owners Urged to Prepare for Active Wildfire Season

    “Mandatory evacuation and other wildfire-connected orders are issued by local law enforcement departments,” Broyles said. “So first people should know who to talk to and who to get news from about evacuations, then they need to know where they’re going to go in case of evacuation and what they’re going to do with their livestock.”
    These “know-before-you-go” plans should include identifying specific routes out of the fire zone and making advance arrangements to place evacuated horses with friends, family members, or others whose properties are located well away from the fire.
    Owners who cannot evacuate their animals should prepare for them to take “shelter in place,” according to firefighter Gina Gonzales, of the Loveland Fire Rescue in Loveland, Colo., and an assistant instructor for The Large Animal Emergency Rescue Inc.
    Gonzales advises owners to stock enough food and water to accommodate their horses for five to seven days. She also recommends that owners relocate horses from barns to paddocks, even if barns are equipped with sprinkler systems. In the event horses become separated from their properties, owners should use indelible marker to write contact information on their horses’ hooves or on duct tape placed on the horse’s neck. Owners who evacuate should take with them a packet containing information about their horse, including photographs. Finally, she recommends owners place signs on their fences advising firefighters and other local authorities that animals remain on the property.
    Finally, Broyles recommends that owners who reside in wildfire prone areas create “defensible spaces” around their properties. Defensible spaces are 100-foot perimeters that surround bans, paddocks, homes and other structures to discourage fire from advancing through the property. These spaces are devoid of overgrown brush, flammable chemicals, or trees that could fuel cinders emanating from wildfires. Livestock left on the property should be placed within this defensible space.
    Owners who have created defensible spaces on their properties should also maintain these spaces, Broyles said.
    “Landscaping doesn’t always take defensible spaces into account, but trees and other plants that grow have to be trimmed,” she said.


  7. AGAIN! SENTIENT BEINGS! Research is slowly proving the intellectual, emotional, cognitive abilities of animals. You know, what WE already know. So many stories and videos of animals saving animals. Dog dragging an injured dog across a highway to safety. Dog going to humans and leading to injured animal friend. Stray cat and dog huddled together for warmth. An animal with a “knowing” that another animal is blind and becomes his eyes. And on and on… As I go on in advocacy for animals, more and more I believe they are so human-like, **ONLY THEY CANNOT TALK. That has been the so-called disproving label: “dumb animals.” >>>>That they do not feel pain, not feel fear, not feel love & caring. Oh yes they do. Our “Fur Persons.” A great little book that s powerful: “THE DREADED COMPARISON: HUMAN AND ANIMAL SLAVERY,” by Marjorie Spiegel. The similarities of black slaves to animals. Violence. Enslavement. And remember, it was thought black slaves were not human….no feelings, were “things”… like our animals are deemed my so many.. So it was ok to break-up families for slaves could NOT feel. Our Wild horses losing their families in roundups… despair seen n their bodies, faces. …. Some stuff to think about. And do what we can. And pray to the ones lost. We are with them.


  8. Ronnie~so very true~just think the same about animal slaughter today, we believe ourselves to be more intellegent than animals because we can speak. But what if a more intelligent species with superior tecnology than ourselves were to come to earth, could not speak our language and thought of us as no more than animals. Would it be right for them to round us up, split our famiilys apart, put us in small cages, take our babies and small offspring, beat us whenever the mood struck, cripple some of us and beat us till we were bruiesd and bloody, some bodies broken and then when we went to slaughter our faces were black and blue, eyes swollen shut, some not able to walk so drug and pushed along the slaughter line, only to be stabbed in the spine to paralize us and some times they miss and only end up stabbing us in the back before we are hoisted up and our throats slit.

    This my friends and fellow humans is what has been done to animals~~and if this were to happen the fat cats in our government would be the first pigs to squeal.

    Now I ask you does might make it right????


  9. i so agree with geri , what they the (BLM) are doing to our wild horses and donkeys is so cruel, the inhumanity is just so discouraging. please vote this administration out so we can save what’s left of this country!!!!


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