Fluvanna Faces: Ashley Jenkins, founder, Finally Home Animal Haven

By Harvey J. Sorum

Tell us about your background prior to Finally Home Animal Haven.

As a child I always loved animals and felt the need to help them more. I spent my teenage years volunteering at a local animal shelter and was always surrounded by lots of animals throughout my childhood. When I grew up and had children of my own, I always encouraged them to volunteer where they could and help those in need. We volunteered at several different nonprofits, but they always loved those that helped animals the most. They all loved helping, but in particular, our middle daughter Natalie, always had a strong desire to do anything she could to help any and all animals in need. We spent years learning, volunteering and helping other rescues with the animals in their care until one day Natalie came to me and asked me if we could start a rescue of our own. We knew it would be a lot of hard work and sleepless nights, however we decided that with all that is happening in the world, if our future generations are inspired to do so, why not do everything we can to empower and help her dreams come true.

Why is your interest in eys?

Donkeys are amazing. A lot of people don’t realize exactly how sweet they can be. They are trusting and loyal, even when overtime humans have abused them to the point that they shouldn’t be. When Natalie was around three, she often visited a neighbor’s donkey that lived near her grandparents. He lived in a cattle field and was very shy, but every time she visited, she brought him treats of which his favorite was Fig Newtons. She quickly became fascinated by him and loved interacting with him. Over the years he would spook less and less until he learned to love her visits and began to trust her, excitingly braying every time he saw her coming down the driveway or hearing her voice from afar. She named him Grumpy because he reminded her of Eeyore. Even though he had cattle to keep him company, he had no other donkey friends and she knew they were companion animals and developed strong bonds with other don-keys. On days she saw him standing out in the cold rain, she always thought he looked sad and imagined him saying in Eeyore’s voice “another rainy day…”  When she turned 11, the opportunity arose where she was excited beyond belief to be able to bring Grumpy to our home to live with us forever. 

How did you start your home for donkeys?

A lot of people use donkeys as guardians for their barnyard animals. However, what people don’t realize is that donkeys don’t bond with other animals quite like they do with other donkeys. When donkeys bond, they bond for life. They typically are never too far from their bonded partner and get really sad when they go out of their sight. If their bonded partner dies, they will actually mourn over the other donkey for days or even weeks, may stop eating and drinking and can die of a broken heart. It’s really important for donkeys to have other donkeys to watch over them. These guardians rest their eyes, but don’t actually fall asleep unless they have other donkeys around. Over years this lack of sleep can be detrimental to their health, just as it can be to humans. When we brought Grumpy over to our farm, we knew he needed donkey friends, so we reached out to another rescue who also specialized in donkeys and they delivered us two. We fell in love with donkeys and their adorable personalities and quickly realized how misunderstood they were among the general community. In starting the rescue, it became apparent how much abuse, neglect and pain they often endure because of this. Our need to help other donkeys and animals quickly grew from there.

Do you provide a safe haven for animals other than donkeys?

Yes! We provide a safe haven for all barnyard animals in need, although we try to limit ourselves to bigger animals because we have more outdoor space to provide for them. It’s very hard to say no to any animal especially when they are in dire need, even though donkeys are our first love. 

Do donkeys get along with horses and other animals?

Yes, donkeys get along with most animals. Donkeys can kick, but they don’t just do it for pleasure. It is a defense mechanism for when they are scared of something. There is a common misconception that donkeys are stubborn and that is actually not true. They are extremely smart and there are actually several studies that they may have higher intelligence than horses.  Over time they have learned for survival that it’s best to analyze a situation before acting. Many people confuse this with being stubborn, however they are actually trying to see if what you are asking them to do is safe. With donkeys interacting with other animals, this is just as true. If a dog runs at them barking and growling, just as you may expect-they may get kicked. However, if you introduce them to other barnyard animals correctly, watch them and see how they interact, there have been many instances when they can coexist together happily. Although, just as with most animals, it may be safer to put animals in together that are of similar size.

How do you create interest in donkeys in surrounding counties and elsewhere?

We try to educate people as much as possible about donkeys, their needs and the problems they face throughout the world. We post often on Facebook to help inspire people to fall in love with donkeys just as we have and understand why they need our help. The donkey hide trade for example is just as much of a problem here throughout the U.S., in which many people don’t think these things still happen today. There is nothing really protecting them when they get shipped from the U.S. in the auction to slaughter pipelines, byproducts called Ejiao are created and used for some beauty products and others are even sold and shipped on Amazon to your front door. In other countries, where donkeys are used for the sole transportation for families, donkeys are often stolen from their backyards to additionally support this trade, leaving them helpless. It is important to do everything we can to protect them from being a victim of this horrible act. 

Also, donkeys are often an “out of sight, out of mind” kind of animal. Many purchase them and stick them in a field and think that all they need is grass. Having an extremely overweight donkey is just as detrimental to their health as having a starving one; they need as much care as any equine would. They need regular vet visits, hoof and dental care. When they are seniors, they need additional feed or supplements, pain medicine for arthritis or their food wet to prevent them from choking when they no longer have good teeth. We try to use Facebook as a platform for educating people about issues like these and their proper care. We also have an open house a couple times a year and love to show people with one-on-one interactions how sweet they can be. When people come to our open houses, they tend to have a lot of questions about donkeys and we love to answer any that they may have and help educate them on the issues they face. We often hear great feedback about how much they’ve learned that they never knew and how they leave here having a new view (and love) of donkeys.

Does each donkey have its own personality?

Yes! Donkeys are just like oversized dogs, they have so many different personalities! Some like their ears scratched and just want to be loved on. Some love to play with old boots or empty boxes- throwing them up in the air and playing tug of war with others. They chase each other through the field on cool afternoons, playing with one another. We have one funny donkey who is a troublemaker and every time a fly mask is put on another donkey, thinks it’s his sole job to take them off of all of the others. One of our other donkeys thinks he’s a human and whenever anyone is having a conversation in the field, thinks it’s his job to be the center of attention, standing right in the middle of it. Another loves humans so deeply, he will make it his mission to follow you wherever you go-just so he can be with you. Just like all abused animals, some have been through worse situations than others and have taken over a year to warm up to humans again. All of them want interaction, but it just takes longer for some depending on what they have been through.

Do you encourage people, especially with children, to visit Finally Home Animal Haven so they can learn first-hand about donkeys?

Absolutely! We believe in educating our children to make a difference where they can through knowledge and action! Learning firsthand is the best way to create memories children take with them for life! Visiting animal rescues is a great tool to inspire change in the way they think, treat animals and use that knowledge to inspire change in others.

How do you manage to take care of everything? Do you encourage volunteers to help you?

We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit animal rescue with a handful of great volunteers. We believe in working together as several of our volunteers are family members. We also have a board of directors, with a shared love of animals and the inspiration to create change. We are always looking for volunteers to help out on a regular basis, if only for a couple hours a week. Depending on what calls for help we receive each week, determines what different types of animals we may have. (Although we will always have donkeys!) Sometimes our workload is large when there are less hands to help. We have hopes to continue to expand and bring in more animals in need over time, as fundraising allows. The more volunteers we have in this process, the more animals with different needs we are able to bring in, work with and give special care. 

Do you have a mission statement?

At Finally Home Animal Haven we are dedicated to saving abused, neglected and surrendered animals and helping them find their lifelong home. Our mission is to rehabilitate, retrain and safely place these animals into a forever home or when not possible, provide a permanent sanctuary here at Finally Home Animal Haven. We are devoted to educating people about these loving misunderstood animals and helping to provide them with a forever home: a place where they will never experience unnecessary pain again brought onto them by a cruel human hand. A place where they can live out their lives without having to work until they are no longer needed and thrown aside, a place where possibly for one of the first times in their life they will feel only love. They will never have to worry about having a shelter to shade them from the storm or wonder where they will get their next meal, a place where they can live out the rest of their lives peacefully, a place where they will always feel: Finally Home.

Do you have a website where we can learn more about your facility and the animals in your care?

Yes! Our website is www.finallyhomehaven.org.  If you’d like to get updates on Facebook we are Finally Home Animal Haven. To see fun videos and pictures of the animals in our care, we are also on Instagram and TikTok!

Related Posts

dewi88 cuanslot dragon77 cuan138 enterslots rajacuan megahoki88 ajaib88 warung168 fit188 pusatwin pusatwin slot tambang88 mahkota88 slot99 emas138