THE number of donkeys being abandoned by their owners has trebled over the past year to its highest-ever level.
The Donkey Sanctuary in Liscarroll, Co Cork, the country's largest shelter, is full to capacity with 620 unwanted animals – its highest ever number.
The 100-acre sanctuary took in more than 170 animals last year and found homes for almost 50. Of the donkeys taken in to the shelter, around 100 had been abandoned by their owners – more than treble the number of the year before.
There are still a further 97 donkeys in holding bases across the country, waiting for space to become available at the centre.
Paddy Barrett, spokesman for the 48-year-old sanctuary, said: "I think it's probably the worst year we've ever had."
He hopes the increasing financial pressures on the centre will be eased by their annual Christmas raffle which takes place this Wednesday.