It only takes one trip to the grounds of Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue to recognize that Ann Firestone’s nonprofit organization is an oasis for abandoned, and often neglected or abused, donkeys and mules.
Ann has been rescuing donkeys and mules for many years in an unofficial capacity. She takes in owner-surrendered donkeys and mules, lovingly rehabilitates them – many times nursing them back to health – and then places them with responsible owners. Often the animals Ann takes in have not been properly cared for. Most commonly the donkeys and mules are overweight due to poor nutrition and their hooves have not been regularly trimmed. In some of the more severe cases it has taken Ann a while to win the trust of donkeys that have been abused by their previous owners.
By Gretchen Abendschein
Slideshow of Ann Firestone and Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue Farm in South Acworth
Aside from the rescued donkeys and mules on SYA farm Ann also owns seven equines that are pets: Crackers, a quarter horse/Morgan mule, Lula, (her first) standard donkey, Babylegs, a standard donkey, Grayson, a mammoth, Louise, a mammoth, Juno, a mammoth and she is a foster owner to Memphis, a quarter horse who belongs to Ann’s good friend and neighbor, Tara Auger.
Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue is located on Saw Mill Road, off Beryl Mountain Road in South Acworth, NH. Donations are always welcome and go directly to helping the rescued donkeys and mules in Ann’s care. To make a donation or to read more about Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue and the dedicated women who run the organization click here: www.saveyourassrescue.org
Ann Firestone and Bubba,
In January 2008 Ann transformed her rescue efforts into an official nonprofit organization with the help of five women from Massachusetts. Ann is the only woman in the group who has a farm, so the homeless donkeys and mules usually end up at her place, although two of the other women in the organization take in an occasional foster. Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue is a group effort and labor of love for this small group of dedicated women.
"We decided to join forces and put all of our energy together to help as many donkeys and mules possible," said Ann.
The turnaround time for donkey and mule placement varies, partly depending upon the degree of rehabilitation involved. The average time rescued animals remain on the farm is three months. An adoption fee is charged to cover expenses for the time the donkeys and mules are on the Save Your Ass (SYA) farm.
Since the beginning of the year SYA has rescued two pregnant jenneys (female donkeys). Camilla was originally a Bureau of Land Management donkey that was captured in Utah in 1999. The Bureau of Land Management rounds up wild horses and donkeys on public rangelands and ships them to satellite clinics for adoption by the general public. Camilla had ended up in a very abusive situation before being rescued by SYA. She foaled Quincy last May. Camilla and her foal Quincy now live in Connecticut.
Currently there is another donkey on the SYA farm named Kitty who arrived as a pregnant jenny. Kitty foaled on July 24. "It was a rainy, windy morning so I put off going to the barn until I had a second cup of coffee," said Ann. When she went to the barn she was surprised to see a newborn foal. Ann decided to name the foal Windy. She plans to keep Kitty and Windy until the foal is weaned unless someone is interested in adopting both mother and daughter together.
Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue is registered with the state of New Hampshire as a donkey and mule rescue facility. Adoptions are arranged through word of mouth or with the help of veterinarians in New England who know about the SYA rescue facility. Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue is also included in online listings, such as a Mammoth Jack Stock website and the Yankee Society of New England Donkey Owners.
Ann explained that President George Washington created the first mammoth jack stock donkeys in the United States. Washington imported donkeys from Spain and France, which were large work animals. One of the donkeys Washington received from the Marquis de Lafayette was named Knight of Malta. Washington bred Knight of Malta to his jennys and created an American line of mammoth jacks. The breed includes both males and females that are typically larger than other donkeys.
Eighteen years ago Ann saw a donkey foal getting a belly rub at a petting zoo. That was all it took. "I knew I had to have one," said Ann.
Once Ann became enamored of donkeys she quickly discovered that there is an entire subculture of donkey enthusiasts. Ann explained that donkeys have a reputation for stubbornness, but this is actually a misinterpretation of their highly-developed sense of self-preservation. It is difficult to force or frighten a donkey into doing something it finds dangerous.
Donkeys are intelligent, gentle, friendly, playful and eager to learn. "Most donkeys have the temperament of a mellow dog," explained Ann.
Ann’s love of animals is apparent in the jobs that she has held for her entire adult life. She has been a veterinary technician since 1975 and still works occasionally in a vet’s office in Westminster, Vermont. She was a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for the state of New Hampshire for many years and was also involved with a greyhound rescue program. In 1999 Ann started her own dog training business, DogSense, but had been working training dogs for the Monadnock Humane Society for years before that.
Ann has many other animals besides donkeys and mules on her farm in Acworth. Dogs, cats and birds, most of them abandoned animals that were in need of a home and are now her pets, round out Ann’s menagerie of rescued critters. Ann refers to them as "an occupational hazard".