Letter: After the Feb. 13 Ferndale Donkey Basketball Event / Noisy Waters Northwest

Donkey pulling in three different Ferndale High School donkey basketball games

September 15, 2016  Dena Jensen

Credits for above photos, clockwise from left:  TV screen-shot from KOMO News report on Feb. 13, 2016 donkey basketball event; screen-shot of FHS/FFA donkey basketball event Jan. 2012 YouTube Video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjqCkGLrcLg; screen-shot of FHS/FFA donkey basketball event Jan. 2012 YouTube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKDBPolLIXM

Below is my February 15, 2016 letter to Ferndale Superintendent Linda Quinn and Ferndale Principal Gardner (who I somehow incorrectly addressed as President Gardner!  I just sent off an apology to him for this.) regarding the pulling of donkeys during the February 13, 2016 donkey basketball event.

I will let everyone know if I get an answer to my question as to whether any individuals who did coerce donkeys were removed from the game for physically trying to drag them forward when donkeys were noticeably resisting.

Dear Superintendent Quinn and President Gardner,
I have have sent in two previous letters of deep concern regarding the February 13, 2016 donkey basketball event that school officials allowed to be held at Ferndale High School last evening to benefit the Ferndale FFA.

Here is one paragraph from the letter I sent you on February 8, 2016, as it is related to the subject that I wish to address in this email:

“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.

When I watched a KOMO news piece last night reporting on the Ferndale donkey basketball event after it was held, I was very disturbed to see in a photo from that report, that the pulling of donkeys – riders attempting to drag the donkeys when they do not wish to move forward – was still permitted.  Please reply and inform me as to whether riders were taken out of the game for doing this.  I would feel better to learn that this was the case, even though I still feel that allowing this event to move forward with its innate perils for the donkeys was irresponsible of all the members of the School District who approved it.

I hope that Ferndale School officials will clearly explain to students that any behaviors that are physically coercive (except in some cases where physical harm is imminent) are completely unacceptable and that the school district will certainly not ever again permit coercion to be incorporated in events at Ferndale Schools, especially in cases where these past events have allowed it and promoted it.  I am including a link to a pictorial perspective piece that I had put together for my information and opinion aggregate blog, Noisy Waters Northwest.  To me it is very sad to be in the position to be able to update it with a current photo from the KOMO report from last night.

selling coercion

Dena Jensen

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