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Central Coast Living: Volunteer at donkey sanctuary in Arroyo Grande

Posted at 9:02 AM, May 02, 2019

Central Coast Living is a new lifestyle for some donkeys in Arroyo Grande. After suffering from abuse, neglect or homelessness, a local couple is taking these animals in to live out their days.

Jim Eckford says the phrase “stubborn as a donkey” really does not match the animals he cares for.

“They’re on ‘donkey time’ which sometimes you have to wait until they decide to do what they want to do,” Eckford said.

Eckford and his wife Carlen work around the clock to give their rescued donkeys a safe and happy place to live.

The Eckfords fell in love with donkeys over 20 years ago when they rescued their first two.

“We knew that there were donkeys that needed homes and donkeys that needed safe places to be,” he said.

Nearly two years ago, Rancho Burro Donkey Sanctuary gained its 501(c)3 license as a non-profit, amid mounting costs to care for the ailing animals.

The Eckfords’ newest donkeys, Gracie and Henry, came to them last fall from a ranch in Creston where they were neglected.

Gracie and Henry’s hooves were severely overgrown after years without proper care.

“It was very, very sad to see them just about lame, not able to walk very well, Eckford said.

A local veterinarian and farrier were able to shave down the overgrown hooves but Gracie and Henry’s feet require ongoing care.

Gracie and Henry are still skittish but the Eckfords hope the pair will soon gallop around the pasture with the rest of the pack.

Donkeys Tutti and Bella came to Rancho Burro as a sort of “two-for-one” deal.

Eckford says they rescued Tutti from a ranch in Texas where she was about to be slaughtered. Unbeknownst to the Eckfords at the time, Tutti was pregnant.

“Little Bella popped out and was born here,” said Eckford.

The Eckfords are currently caring for eight donkeys and they anticipate taking in more. However, they need help.

“We can only handle so many,” Eckford said. “It’s expensive and there’s a lot of work involved. We’re at it 24/7.”

Rancho Burro is asking locals to consider volunteering to care of the kind equine animals.

The Eckfords are also opening the ranch to school groups so kids can learn about donkeys and share their passion for giving animals a better life.

“To give them a home and see them thrive is really heartwarming.”

Rancho Burro Donkey Sanctuary appreciates donations, whether monetary or physical items like barn supplies.

If you’re interested in helping support the donkey sanctuary, you can contact Jim and Carlen Eckford at (805) 570-6815.