By Pat Maurer
Crossroads Donkey and Mule Rescue, celebrating their tenth anniversary this holiday weekend, is mid-Michigan’s answer to save unwanted, abused and neglected donkeys and mules.
To celebrate, and to thank all of the volunteers who have helped over the years, the Crossroads’ Donkey Rescue’s fifth annual Donkey and Mule Show is scheduled for Sunday, September 2 all day beginning at 10 a.m. on the farm of Ed and Amy Morris called Rambling Acres, located on Leaton Road just four miles east of Clare and a mile south of Business U.S. 10.
The “Burro Bash,” a special German themed dinner is planned for Saturday evening (September 1) beginning at 6 p.m. as a special thank you for Crossroads volunteers.
On Sunday, twenty seven events are planned, with many more geared just for children, and all for a small entry or all day fee. Rustic camping is available. They are located next to Yoder’s farm where the Amish Craft Show and Quilt Auction will be held on Friday and Saturday.
Crossroads has a lot to celebrate. The 501-C-3 non-profit service, which finds homes for the gentle creatures, has three main locations: just east of Clare on Leaton Road on the farm of Ed and Amy Morris called Rambling Acres; one serving the Harrison and Gladwin area from the farm of Fran D’Angela, who is the founder of Crossroads; and on the farm of Michelle Alicandro in Howell.
The organization has several other places where the animals are fostered including the farms of Charles Mackenzie in Dimondale and Michelle Magnus in Beaverton.
Crossroads gets the animals when they are surrendered because the owners either can no longer care for them or no longer want them and they even sometimes obtain wild donkeys from the Bureau of Land Management.
“We also buy some at auction,” said Morris, “to save them from overseas meat buyers,” Where, she said, horse, donkey and mule meat is considered a delicacy.
The non-profit organization, which is governed by a seven-member board, is supported by donations of money, supplies and time from many people and businesses including locally, many hot dog sales at Witbeck’s Family Foods in Clare. “Jerry donates everything to help us out,” Morris said. “All we have to bring is a grill.”
“Michigan State (MSU) people are great helpers too,” Morris said. They provide needed medical treatment and geld all of the male animals for us. Males are called Jacks, females are Jennies and their offspring are foals. Cross breeding a donkey and a horse yields a mule, which is generally sterile, Morris said. She went on saying the animals come in various sizes including “Mammoth,” the largest, “Large Standard,” “Small Standard,” and “Mini.”
“They are usually more intelligent and calmer than horses,” Morris continued. “Sometimes they are used as therapy animals for families, children and those with special needs.”
Although Crossroads handles only donkeys and mules, Amy said her farm also takes in horses that need a temporary home and find adoptive families for them too. She pointed out the many animals pastured on the farm, including “Moses” a five-year-old mule that was rescued in the Bad Axe area where he had gone “feral.”
“He was running wild and living on what he could for six months through the whole winter,” Morris said. “We had a really hard time catching him, but he is calming down now and we are finally able to touch him. He is so smart. Ones like him are our ‘problem children’.”
Then there is “Hannah” who loves people so much, it was almost impossible to back away from her long enough to get a good picture. “We have two Hannahs right now,” Morris said. “I adopted one of them.”
Amy said she has been active with Crossroads for about four years now. “I still love doing it,” she said. “They are such special animals.”
Fran D’Angela is Crossroads’ founder. She said the organization rescues an average of about 50 animals each year and finds adoptive homes for about 50. “We have helped about 300 donkeys and mules over the past ten years,” she said.
She said she had been involved in small animal foster care when she acquired her first donkey. “I was amazed that there wasn’t a donkey rescue in the area,” she said. Together with about six friends, they formed Crossroads. “It has been successful every year,” she said. “When our funds get low, a generous donation comes in just in time to keep us going.”
There is a fee of $250 to adopt each animal, D’Angela said, and adoptive families sign a contract that if they no longer want or can care for their donkey or mule, they will bring them back to us so we can find another good home.
Some of the animals can’t be adopted. “We have two right now that were severely neglected. We will probably keep them.” She said. She said there are about 50 available for adoption now. Their ages range from foals to animals over 30 years old.
“We encourage potential adoptees to come and see the animals,” D’Angela said. “Some bond with people and choose the person they want to go home with. Those are usually our most successful adoptions.”
“Everyone is welcome to come to our 10th anniversary event,” she said, “and find out more about what we do.”
Visit their website at crossroadsdonkeyrescue.webs.com.