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How this Sask. sanctuary is saving unwanted ponies and donkeys
NEAR ESTEVAN -- A farm in southern Saskatchewan has become a sanctuary for unwanted ponies and donkeys.
The Happy Little Hooves Pony and Donkey Sanctuary opened in 2019, after sisters Rhonda and Laura Stock left their careers behind and adopted two donkeys, Apple Jack and Chocolate Pudding.
“Once we got them, we just absolutely fell in love with donkeys,” said Rhonda.
Now a full scale operation west of Estevan, the pair has taken in all kinds of hoofed creatures.
“We take in ponies, donkeys, mini horses and mini mules that need a life long home. They all have medical or behavioural issues,” said Rhonda.
The Stocks say the sanctuary is often the last chance at a forever home for these animals.
Rhonda Stock (pictured) and her sister Laura Stock started the Happy Little Hooves Pony and Donkey Sanctuary in early 2019. (Brendan Ellis/CTV News)
“A lot of them would die unfortunately, because they would get put down by their owners who just had no other option,” said Rhonda. “We just want to make sure that they’re looked after for the rest of their lives. This is their last stop.”
The sisters are hoping the hooved haven can help educate people and raise awareness about the care and special needs of these animals that differ from full sized horses.
Many belonged to owners who didn’t know the proper care for miniature ponies and donkeys.
“They’re very misunderstood,” said Laura. “We also like to educate people on proper diet and hoof care for the little guys and donkeys.”
The property is also home to some full sized horses, goats, dogs and cats.
Once the animals get acclimatized to their new home, the sanctuary employees say they can see a noticeable change in behaviour.
“Each one of these little guys has their own characters and it’s just great to see their personalities coming out whether they were abused, or had feet issues,” said Jeanita Perry, the professional groomer at Happy Little Hooves.
The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down the sanctuary’s income down, but the Stocks are hopeful donations will pick up again soon.
The sanctuary is currently is at capacity, caring for 21 animals, but the pair has hopes of expanding the property to help out more ponies and donkeys in the future.