Bar Cocherell was downsizing for a move across the country, but she faced a unique challenge: finding a home for Goose, her miniature donkey. Fortunately, a new nonprofit sanctuary, Healing Herds, had just opened in Dahlonega.
“It was wrenching to give him up, but when I met the people at Healing Herds, I knew he was in good hands – they wear their heart on their sleeves and are committed to humane care,” she says. “And he’s part of a herd now, so he won’t be lonely.”
Donkeys are woefully misunderstood, says Aimee Guidetti, founder and director of the 10-acre facility. “There are very few sanctuaries or facilities in the country intended just for donkeys, who are truly a forgotten animal,” she says.
She got the idea during the pandemic. “We were isolated. My grandmother died, and my father was diagnosed with dementia. It was a hard time,” she says. “But my two miniature donkeys helped me heal and gave me this idea.”
The animal, known for its contrariness, can also be very loving, intuitive and comical. “When they go to the auction, they’re headed for the slaughterhouse,” Guidetti says. “Donkeys are natural antidepressants, and I decided I wanted to share that quality with other people who might need a lift.”Her board of directors includes a psychologist who specializes in autism and other special needs. Healing Herds, which has 14 donkeys now, plans to work with children and adults who need a little equine therapy.
“We’re not just taking care of donkeys,” she says. “We want to heal people, one bray at a time.”