The Fabulous Five


Written by Alicia Thomas, Committee Member – SPCA Louis Trichardt

Volunteering at any rescue organisation or shelter will teach you so many life lessons that will remain with you for the rest of your life. There are moments when you can almost feel your heart being ripped out of your chest, and you’re sometimes not sure how the broken pieces will ever be able to be put back together again. But then, there are those magical moments – the ones that make you realise why you are alive. Heart-warming moments that make your whole being and existence want to explode with fulfilment, compassion, love, hope and, most of all, renewed faith in the human race.

This particular rescue and adoption happy tale was most definitely one of those incredible moments…

Five get into trouble

In early May 2017, Gerda Jehle came to see us, heartbroken and in desperate need of advice and a solution for her five much-loved donkeys, Grietjie, Floppy, Dora, Sussie and Krummels.

Unforeseen circumstances had forced Gerda to relocate from their farm to a property on the outskirts of town, and even though there was ample space and it was quite some distance from the adjacent properties, a few of the neighbours complained and even threatened Gerda and her darling donkeys! Fearing for their safety, Gerda came to us for help; one of the donkeys had already been shot with a pellet gun and she was frantic that they might be poisoned or hurt.

Although it was extremely difficult, Gerda made the decision to rehome her five friends for their own safety.

Five go to the SPCA

We were happy to help and, within 12 hours, the group of dusky-coloured donkeys were safely settled in at our SPCA where they could roam freely and safely on a big portion of our property. They had shelter and many people to give them the much-needed love and attention they were accustomed to. Best of all, Gerda could still visit them daily; it was an extremely emotional period for her but, heartbreaking though it was, we knew she had made the best decision for them.

Donkeys are incredibly intelligent animals and form extremely strong bonds, not only with their owner but with other donkeys too. In general, donkeys prefer not to be alone as they’re herd animals. The five of them were really the best of friends and enjoyed each other’s company so, of course, we deeply hoped that we’d be able to rehome them all together, even though we knew it was a long shot.

Our networking wheels were set into motion immediately. Before their pictures even made it to our Facebook page, we miraculously had an adoption pending – and not for just one or two of the donkeys, but all five of them!

This is where this adoption story turns into one of those magical moments I spoke of earlier, when your heart just wants to explode with all those emotions that make you warm and fuzzy inside! And this is where Paul and Tania Coetzee enter this happy tale.

Five find a forever home

Our SPCA has come to know the Coetzees quite well in the past two years; they even adopted one of our most special rescued Africanis dogs, Firefly (we couldn’t have dreamt of a better home for her). Paul and Tania both have an incredible love for animals and extensive knowledge to go with that too.

I’d contacted Paul and Tania to help network on behalf of these special donkeys; I never expected the message I got back from Tania the next day. After some lengthy discussions and considerations, they’d decided that there would be no better home for our five lovely donkeys than on their farm. Yes, all five of them… together!

No time was wasted, and once all the procedures were done, introductions could be made. Not only with the donkeys, but with Gerda as well. It was clearly meant to be and she was able to give Paul and Tania the background, personality traits and history of each donkey!

Grietjie, Floppy, Dora, Sussie and Krummels spent their time relaxing at our SPCA while Paul and Tania erected some extra stables for them. Soon they could join their new family. Although we are overjoyed for them to be going home we have to admit that they will be sorely missed by all – they quickly became such a special part of our SPCA family. They even often joined in the barking choir of our shelter dogs with their joyous braying and at one o’clock sharp every single day, making sure that everyone knew it was time for the daily treats!

We would like to thank each and every person who rallied and networked for their cause, and thank you to Gerda for entrusting us with your precious donkeys; we know that each one is like a child to you.

Then a massive thank you to Paul and Tania for once again opening your hearts and your home to animals in need; thank you for the compassion you have shown, not just to animals but to Gerda, who will be able to visit her donkeys whenever she wants to.

It’s truly amazing what an animal-loving community is capable of when we stand together!