One March morning, we received a call for emergency help.

In the municipality of Labastida, in Vitoria – Gasteiz, a family of donkeys which had been brutally mistreated for years needed a place to go. These three donkeys, mother, father and son, had been seized by the Provincial Council of Alava, after repeated complaints, along with other animals such as dogs, goats and two rabbits. A local resident said that the site where the animals were being kept had no licence of any kind. Despite this, the local city authorities had donated the farmland where animals were being hoarded and kept in appalling conditions.

Tied, chained, without veterinary care or proper food, it was only thanks to the secret intervention of concerned neighbours that any of the animals survived. Unfortunately for the goats, by the time we learned of the situation, it was too late. The defendant got rid of them when he found out about the complaint. We don’t know to this day what he did with them.

Rita is the mother of the family. She is a donkey that was abused and had marks all over her body when she first came to us. When she arrived, we were appalled by the poor condition of her coat and saddened to see how submissive she was. She was suspicious. Not as suspicious as Martin but when you raised a hand to caress her face, she backed away, afraid of the hand delivering a blow.

With time and socialisation, Rita has regained an impressive shine on her coat, she gained healthy weight and, importantly, we saw her self-esteem grow. Rita’s recovery is undoubtedly thanks, in part, to her son and his infectious love of life. In part, the love and care she has received at the sanctuary has also helped her. Here the animals are free to enjoy their lives and there is something contagious about that freedom of freedom and safety. Rita has turned into a loving and affectionate donkey who, although is still wary, allows herself to be embraced and has learned to accept that affection and tenderness are things to be enjoyed.

Rita is an exemplary mother who takes care of her little one wonderfully. Hansel can be nervous if he finds himself too far away from his mum. She tolerates Hansel’s energetic games without complaint – even when everyone but Hansel can see that she would much rather be having a quiet nap than running around the sanctuary keeping up with her whirlwind son.

Change a life! Sponsor Rita today!

By sponsoring Rita, you will not only be ensuring that her ongoing care is provided for the rest of her life, but you are also helping us to ensure that when other animals who need us can be rescued and given a second chance at life. As a small token of our appreciation, we will send you an E-Certificate of appreciation to acknowledge your support. If you would like to sponsor Rita in the name of a friend or loved one, just email us on and we will ensure that the certificate is made out in your recipient’s name.

On behalf of Rita and everyone at Wings of Heart Sanctuary, thank you.

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