By AMY DAVIS
Attention animal lovers: The 8th Annual Donkey Jamboree will be held at the Eureka Casino Resort on Saturday, March 12 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the back parking lot. This is the biggest fundraiser of the year for Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue (PVDR).
The fair-like event will feature food, drink, stalls with unique items, raffle prizes and more. Those who attend will also be treated to live music from the band “Bottoms Up”.
Sitting on 250 acres, PVDR is the largest donkey rescue in the world and every penny donated makes a difference. The event was canceled last year due to COVID and everyone involved with Donkey Rescue is excited to bring it back.
“We jokingly call it a donkey fair,” says owner Joan Dunkle. “It’s a lot of fun and we always seem to have a great turnout.”
Dunkle said vendors offer unique items to attendees. “There are so many cute things to buy that you won’t find anywhere else,” she said. “And we will bring two donkeys!”
PVDR is funded solely by donations. All employees are volunteers. The donation money feeds the donkeys and covers the cost of veterinary needs.
PVDR owners Joan and Fred Dunkle discovered they had a mutual love for animals while dating. Both parties were interested in running some sort of animal sanctuary. Their initial idea was to save dogs and cats. But the restrictions and fees for small animal shelters have proven to be too high. So they started looking for other ways to make their dream come true.
Eventually, the Dunkles learned of the donkeys and their need for a safe haven. Two days after their wedding, they got their first group of donkeys.
When the donkeys are rescued, they are taken to the PVDR training center and prepared for adoption.
“To be adopted, they need to be able to lift their feet, walk on a leash, be brushed, and learn to be nice,” Joan Dunkel said.
If a donkey refuses to be mown down, it is sent to a satellite where it is free to live out the rest of its life in peace, she said.
The ranch’s newest donkeys come from Death Valley, California. “The government wanted them out,” Joan said. “In fact, we get most of our rescue requests from them.”
It is very common for Dunkles to receive a call from the US Fish and Game Service or BLM for donkey removal. But the government does not pay the shelter to recover the donkeys. “We don’t get paid for any of this and that’s why this fundraiser is so important,” Joan said.
The fundraising money helped PVDR support donkeys in the Caribbean and later in Australia when the wildfires raged. They even have Hawaiian donkeys on the ranch. Donkeys brought to the Big Island at the start of agriculture were left free for 40 years. The locals had started threatening to shoot or ransack them whenever the donkeys, in search of food, began destroying the already drought-stricken land.
“We loaded these donkeys onto a 747 and flew them straight to California,” Joan said. “We picked them up in Los Angeles and drove them to the PVDR satellite in Littlefield and took care of them. We are 100% volunteers and we could not do what we need to do without generous donors.