Dear Superintendent Quinn and Principal Gardner,
I was disappointed to read the Ferndale School District statement on the Discover Ferndale website today about the upcoming Donkey Basketball game scheduled to be held at Ferndale High School this Saturday, February 13th.
I have been learning a good deal in reading comments on social media regarding this event that indicate the thinking that helps perpetuate our old beliefs and behaviors in regards to animals, beliefs and behaviors that allow animals to be mistreated in our present world. Unfortunately, your statement on Discover Ferndale echoes some of the attitudes that I would consider very human-centered and lacking in compassion for other creatures.
I know it is sometimes hard to imagine breaking with tradition. But when we discover our traditions revolve around things that are psychologically traumatic for people, your students for example, or involve them being put in harms way unnecessarily, those breaks must be made and really there is no balancing to be done. I believe this to be equally true when we discover that events and practices are unnecessarily traumatic and potentially harmful for animals.
I wanted to list some of my observations and concerns about a Donkey Basketball event with no major mishaps occurring.
Donkey basketball is an entertainment for people, not for donkeys.
It is not a necessity, there are many other forms of entertainment available.
Basketball can be played in an amusing and entertaining way without donkeys.
Donkey Basketball exists to raise money for the Donkey Basketball business and funds for groups.
There are many other ways to raise funds without donkeys participating.
When money is involved in a game environment, then you have both the outcome of the game and the producing of revenue entering into competition with the physical and mental health and safety of all the players, including those who could not offer their consent to play.
Basketball is a game people play, not donkeys. The donkeys do not shoot or play defense or offense in these Donkey Basketball games. There is little mental interest for them except to obey the humans participating as best they can. You can see during the course of the games, there are numerous instances where the donkeys do not want to obey. They are being made to do something that they, in numerous cases in a single game, visibly do not want to do. To my knowledge, they are paired up with strange riders for each game that they are required to participate in. The donkeys are provided with rubber shoes that protect the gym floor and which help them not to slip, but they have very little other protective coverings for themselves. Unlike the humans, they have no helmets.
And then there is the pulling.
On the Donkey Sports, Inc. website, the image of a human pulling a donkey who does not want to move is displayed prominently on every single webpage that I clicked on. It is also printed on their brochure and their poster for the event. (I have attached some examples of this). To me, this indicates it is a selling point for the enterprise and is one of the strongest condemnations of a best-case-scenario for these events. People think the pulling is funny and entertaining. You hear people laugh at it in the videos. Inducing human will on a non-consenting animal in a game they never would be playing on their own is entertainment for us. And it is time we stepped above and beyond that mentality and behavior that is overtly lacking in understanding and compassion and carries with it the potential for greater abuse. It is time to break the tradition of human dominance to an animal’s detriment and for our luxury.
Additionally, there are the issues of what if money or competition or inhumane motives ever do induce worse consequences to the donkeys from the time they are raised, trained, on through to when they are worked at the events.
It is indeed dismaying that the donkeys involved in the event that you have said you are allowing to proceed will have one more mandatory engagement at Ferndale High School on Saturday Ferbuary 13th. They will have another evening where they have to do their best to be sure that no humans are injured and where they will not be allowed to defend themselves against humans if they become alarmed or scared, all during an affair that is not for their benefit. For Ferndale High, it is just one more nighttime event. It is quite tragic however that after decades of doing so, you are once more contributing to the cycle of these creatures being hired out for event after event, year round (looks like they get a break for the month of September): donkeys, at the very least, getting pulled against their will year-round. Every year. Donkey Sports, Inc. is “NOW SCHEDULING GAMES SEVEN DAYS A WEEK” and office hours are 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Please reconsider your decision to allow the Donkey Basketball event this year at Ferndale High School. Have the discussion with your students, but also lead them with an adult decision that demonstrates that compassion and respect for animals is expected and required and is a cornerstone for building compassion and respect for humans.
You may direct your own letters regarding the Donkey Basketball event to be held at Ferndale High School, Saturday, February 13, 2016 to any or all of the following addresses that you consider appropriate:
Ferndale High School Principal Jeff Gardner:
Ferndale School District Superintendent Linda Quinn:
Ferndale School Board Members:
Ferndale Mayor John Mutchler:
Ferndale City Council Members: