Rico the Donkey Learns to Trust

It’s been six months since Lisa Miskella from Freedom Farm Animal Sanctuary paid the bail and rescued Rico the donkey from a kill pen* in Oklahoma. 

His fate would have landed in the hands of the highest bidder per pound (kill buyers), maybe bound for Mexico or Canada where they have Equine slaughter houses.  I try not to think about that too much but it’s important that people know what his and many equines’ fate may have been. 

Rico traveled over a thousand miles to get here and when he did, he was terrified of people and extremely cautious. He was the picture of neglect; his hooves were overgrown to the point that his bones are slightly deformed, he was extremely dehydrated, covered in lice and he is blind in one eye. 

Rico before
Rico after

Over the next six months we nursed him back to health with many visits from the Vet and Farrier. We also spent many hours earning his trust. There were many breakthroughs during that time, like when he let me brush him for the first time (I didn’t want to stop), or when he first took a treat (we quickly ran out and bought bags of them), or when he put his head on the barn door looking for a snack.

His first bray was both confusing and exciting as we didn’t know if he was hungry, happy, hurt, hot etc. Turns out it mostly means that he is happy to see us or that he wants attention.

Each first fills us with joy and a feeling of hope for farm animals overall. Unfortunately, farmed animals are unprotected in most places and many are mistreated. Taking care of Rico makes us feel like we’re doing our part to raise awareness and move the needle toward compassion.

There are many firsts yet to happen and when they do, we’ll be ready.

* Kill pens are holding areas where unwanted, discarded and abandoned horses and donkeys are held until they are shipped to Mexico or Canada to be slaughtered. Many people who send their horses to auction are unaware that they are destined for the kill pen.

About Pippa and Poppet

Pippa and Poppet are two sweet rabbits being cared for at Freedom Farm Animal Sanctuary. Born just a few weeks ago, they had three siblings that unfortunately didn’t survive. We started feeding them with an eye dropper because they were so tiny. Today, they are happy and thriving, thanks to the support of caring people like you.

These two little bunnies have found their forever home with us, but sadly many more animals are still in need. Now more than ever, as communities face economic hardship due to COVID-19, our phone is ringing off the hook with requests to take animals in need. Freedom Farm relies on the support of people like you and, because we had to cancel our upcoming events, our donations are down.

About Matilda

Matilda was sent to a slaughter auction when she was just a baby. She was very sick with coccidia and infested with lice. She had a nasty infection from the slaughter tag that was punched through her ear. Luckily, Matilda was saved and will live the remainder of her life free from pain, suffering and fear, here at Freedom Farm Animal Sanctuary. Many, many other farmed animals are not as fortunate.


About Willie and Lemonade

Willie and Lemonade

Have you ever seen anything so adorable as these two?
They have such a heartwarming story.

We were contacted by the owner of Lemonade, the chick. She was just one week old. Lemonade was hatched and right away they knew something was wrong. She had a couple of problems. She has cross-beak, which is when the bottom and top beak do not line up. They can have difficulty eating and drink with this condition. But besides that, she also seemed to be blind in her left eye. It would not open. The concerned owner was heartbroken and felt that the chick needed more care than she was able to give. She took wonderful care of Lemonade and became extremely attached. But she made the painful decision to giver her to us.

Willie & Lemonade

The same day, were were contacted by the owner of Willie, the duckling who was also just one week old. Willie was born without his left eye and seemed to be blind in his right eye. He was located in Rhode Island. The owner again, wanted the best care possible for Willie and was very attached to him. They asked if we would be able to help. We immediately said yes and thought that it was fate.

Willie and Lemonade would make perfect companions for each other!



A few days after getting Willie, his left side where his eye should be started getting crusty. I brought Willie and Lemonade to the veterinarian to make sure they were not in pain and to find out their prognosis.

They were both treated with antibiotics for possible infection. Their conditions did not improve. I found an eye specialists in NY that treated cats and dogs. Once I told her their story, she was more than happy to see them. We made the drive to NY.

After examining Willie, the doctor found that where Willie’s eye is missing, there is actually a very small hole and his tear ducts are draining from that hole and that is causing the crusting. This is really not a concern as long as we wipe it clean daily.
​The right eye is a little bit more concerning. Willie was born with some tissue missing in that eye and also some of his iris is missing (the colored part of the eye) and he has several small cataracts on the eye as well. We need to monitor this eye. He reacts to light in the eye but we are not sure how much vision is there. He acts totally blind.


We have better news for Lemonade. She has total vision in her right eye. It seems the muscle that controls her eyelids in the left eye are not working so her vision is very limited.

Her cross beak is worsening as she grows so we may have to start trimming her beak so she can eat and drink properly.

💔  May our beloved Lemonade rest in peace. 💔


About Rocky

Rocky is a four month old lamb. He was rescued from slaughter with his twin brother, Andy, when they were just one week old. During his visit with our veterinarian, we found out that he had Entropion, which occurs when the edge of an eyelid, with the eyelashes, turns in towards the eyeball.

Rocky Sheep
Rocky 2

Without treatment, the animal will most likely lose its sight.

Rocky went under a procedure which consisted of stapling his eyelid open to train it to grow properly. He is doing great.

Rocky’s brother, Andy:

Andy Sheep

About Burke and Stella

Earlier this month we rescued two turkeys, Burke and Stella. These two will live out the rest of their lives here, safe at Freedom Farm Animal Sanctuary.

Burke is a young blue slate turkey, raised for meat. He was shy when he first arrived at FFAS, but now he loves showing off his tail feathers while strutting around the farm.

Stella is a broad breasted white turkey, raised for meat and just few months old. She was rescued from a turkey farm. She has been debeaked, which is an extremely painful process of cutting the beak to prevent cannibalism, due to the fact they are kept in such close quarters. Her feathers are in rough shape from being constantly pecked at. She was shaking from fear when she arrived at the Sanctuary.

Each turkey has less than one square foot to live until they are slaughtered at four and a half months old.

Burke and Stella formed an instant bond, and they can be found walking side by side all day long. They are so happy to be free. They follow us around like little puppies!

Lisa with Turkey Burke

Burke and Stella formed an instant bond, and they can be found walking side by side all day long.