“It never occurs to them that a 350-500 lb donkey might be overloaded with a human weighing more than 20% of the donkey’s own body weight. For a 350 lb donkey the amount they can safely carry on their back is only 70 lbs. In fact, it is common for participants to weigh in excess of 250 lbs. Over time the donkey will have support ligaments break down and experience skeletal damage which results in arthritis. ” – Marjorie Farabee
What is really sad about donkey basketball’s use as a fundraiser for worthy causes, is the acceptance of cruelty and animal abuse. These fundraisers normalize bullying and animal abuse. To speak out against an activity that clearly causes harm to a sentient and very emotionally sensitive being, is confusingly juxtaposed with funding a worthy cause.
Dairyland Donkeyball, the company that provides the donkeys, has positioned itself well to deflect the well deserve criticisms leveled at them by animal welfare organizations. By helping communities raise funds for causes that matter to them, they gain the support of those who support that cause and give leverage to demonizing those who oppose animal cruelty and bullying. When I was sent information that a donkey basketball game had been scheduled just one day following receipt of the information, I set out to try to stop the abuse of the donkeys that would perform that night for Dairyland Donkeyball.
The purpose of the fundraiser was to raise funds for Project Graduation which would benefit Splendora High School students, a commendable cause. Upon receiving the initial report, I was unaware that Project Graduation is a 501 c 3 non-profit set up specifically to provide high school graduates a safe, alcohol and drug free graduation party complete with prizes, food and entertainment and is separate (on paper) from the school itself. Parents from the high school vote on the different
fundraising plans during the school year as board members of the non profit, thus removing the school itself from culpability in its choices, including the choice to use helpless donkeys as a fundraising tool. After speaking with Kevin McDonald who represents Project Graduation, I was given the opportunity to explain why the use of donkeys in this manner was abuse.
The public reacts to a comical vision of large people on small donkeys. It never occurs to them that a 350-500 lb donkey might be overloaded with a human weighing more than 20% of the donkey’s own body weight. For a 350 lb donkey the amount they can safely carry on their back is only 70 lbs. In fact, it is common for participants to weigh in excess of 250 lbs.
Over time the donkey will have support ligaments break down and experience skeletal damage which results in arthritis. Their mental wellness is also affected leaving the donkey depressed with ears carried sideways and a head that is carried low. All of the donkeys observed at the Splendora donkey basketball event displayed signs of depression that were heartbreaking to see.
Dairyland Donkeyball is located in WI and boasts owning 65 working donkeys who are sent out to perform in donkey basketball, donkey baseball and donkeyball races all over the country. Thus, to add to the woes of these sweet creatures, they are subjected to long hauls in a trailer which adds to their stress.
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