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Featured Image Credit: Caters
An animal lover has dedicated her whole life to saving sick donkeys, spending up to £6000 a month on her very own sanctuary.
Lucy Fensom, 49, from Brighton, was first drawn to donkeys in Jerusalem, Israel, whilst travelling back in 2000.
And she fell so in love with the animals that she went on to set up her own donkey sanctuary not long afterwards, named Lucy's Donkey Foundation.
Built on over three acres of land, the sanctuary is home to mis-treated donkeys, many of whom are completely emaciated before Lucy comes to their aid.
"I have seen hundreds of mistreated donkeys and it doesn't get easier," she said. "It is heart-breaking to see them in so much distress and pain.
"The carts and rope tied around them tend to rub on their skin and the wound almost always gets infected.
"It is really terrible!"
Lucy saves approximately 16 donkeys a year, and they're often on the 'brink of death' before she comes to their aid.
Some of the worst cases she's seen include donkeys with gouged out eyes and cut off ears, and she's also seen animals come in with gaping back wounds and fractured limbs, with some even requiring being putting down.
The sanctuary is manned completely voluntarily by Lucy and her husband, with one part-time paid helper.
Lucy said: "There's currently 53 donkeys and three horses at the sanctuary."
It costs approximately £5850 per month to look after them and pay the maintenance bills.
She said: "Our biggest concerns is the cost of the feed and fluctuations in the exchange rate.
"We raise funds mostly in pounds and some dollars, but of course ultimately everything eventually has to be exchanged into Israeli shekels.
"Sadly, we get less shekels to the pound. The hay bales alone cost £2000!
"But we have some amazing supporters, some of whom make hand-made chain covers for the locals working donkeys."
"Their owners tend to use chains around the soft nose in order to have some control of the donkey.
"Our supporters have made chain covers out of thick, soft material such as fabric fur and they make them so we can can wrap them round the chain and velcro them closed around the chain, to prevent the chain rubbing on the skin and causing a gaping wound."
Many people use donkeys as a form of transport so Lucy educates them on how to ride them safely.
She said: "Some donkeys are used with a cart attached to them and mistreated.
"It is so hard because some of the donkeys are confiscated by the police and sent to my sanctuary which is great for the donkey but not the owner.
"I try to prevent this from happening and educate people on how to treat them with respect."
She added: "I also have a vet who can give working donkeys a check up and necessary treatment when we hold outreach clinics.
"A lot of locals think I am crazy for caring so much for the animals but their suffering hurts my heart and I feel compelled to act."
Discussing her decision to stay in Israel and ditch Britain for good, Lucy said: "I never intended on staying in Israel for so long but I have found my reason and place in life.
"It started in the 90s as I ended up volunteering at a cattery after rescuing a stray who was in a bad way.
"There was a donkey outside who would often be tied to the wall for days - I would feed him.'
Eventually, Lucy bought him, seeing as his owner would leave him for months at a time, enlisting the help from the WSPA organisation so she could arrange for him to be sent back to a sanctuary in the UK.
"I've always adored animals and I hate to see them suffer," she said. "I have been passionate about helping the donkey's ever since!"
To help save the donkeys, donate to Lucy's Donkey Foundation here.