Our Story

Although the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada was incorporated in August, 1992, the idea for it began many years before with the dreams of a young girl. When Sandra Pady encountered working animals languishing in fields, in debilitating cold or sweltering heat, lacking food, water, and shelter, she became obsessed with the animals’ welfare. Told by her parents that animals did not have souls and therefore did not suffer - a belief that, unfortunately, is held by many to this day - Sandra was unable to reconcile her parents’ convictions with her own.

It wasn’t until many years later, when Sandra and her husband, David Pady, purchased a 100-acre farm outside of Guelph, Ontario, that she could make her dream of rescuing animals a reality.

Sandra contacted the Joywinds Farm Rare Breeds Conservancy Inc. to learn about rare breeds in need of conservation and also began to educate herself about the fundamentals of farming. David and she read books and spoke with other farmers and breeders of livestock in order to become familiar with modern farming techniques. They also made arrangements with a neighbour to rent out their eastern pasture and soon their land was dotted with grazing sheep.

Then one day, Dudley, their youngest Standard poodle, inadvertently killed one of the lambs while playing. Sandra was devastated. Concerned about the welfare of the remaining sheep, she telephoned Jy Chiperzack, founder of the Rare Breeds Conservancy, who told her that some donkeys have been known to be effective guardians of sheep if they have bonded with the animals. As a result, David and Sandra agreed to foster three of the Conservancy’s donkeys.

From the first day that Riley, Bronwyn and Apache trotted into her life, Sandra was captivated. She could not get enough of the donkeys’ gentle stillness and soothing, restful presence, and found herself spending more and more time with them.

Sandra’s first opportunity to rescue a donkey came unexpectedly. A neighbouring farmer had bought a donkey to guard a herd of goats. When the little donkey proved to be an ineffective guardian, the farmer saw no use for him and confined him to a stall, where he remained, lonely and despondent.

When Sandra learned about the donkey, she arranged to purchase him. Thus, Sebastian became the first donkey to be rescued by what was to become the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada (DSC). He was not, however, to be the last.

Shortly after, she was informed about nine donkeys slated for an equine auction. When Sandra was told that these donkeys would be sold to a slaughterhouse if no other buyer appeared, she took them in as well.

Initially, Sandra had not considered the possibility of their farm becoming a sanctuary. It was only after friends mentioned there were several donkey sanctuaries in England that she started to research them and to write letters requesting information. Dr. Elizabeth Svendsen, founder of The Donkey Sanctuary in Great Britain - the world’s largest donkey sanctuary - replied immediately to Sandra’s queries, encouraging her to start a sanctuary in Canada. In addition, Dr. Svendsen provided helpful advice about organization and fundraising.

The DSC is modeled after The Donkey Sanctuary in Great Britain. To date, 142 equines have been given a lifelong home under the protection of the DSC, while thousands of visitors arrive each year to spend time with the donkeys and learn about their unique personalities and gentle, winning ways.