Dr Elisabeth Svendsen MBE, founder of The Donkey Sanctuary and the Elisabeth Svendsen Trust for Children and Donkeys, has died at the age of 81.

Dr Elisabeth Svendsen MBE, founder of The Donkey Sanctuary and the Elisabeth Svendsen Trust for Children and Donkeys, has died at the age of 81.
 
Dr Elisabeth Svendsen MBEDr Svendsen founded the Devon-based charity in 1969, after finding seven donkeys in a poor state crammed into a small pen at Exeter market. Since that day, her tireless devotion and endeavour has seen The Donkey Sanctuary take in more than 14,500 donkeys and mules in need of lifelong care in the UK, Ireland and mainland Europe.
 
Dr Svendsen’s passionate leadership also led to the development of the charity’s work overseas, helping donkeys working in desperate conditions in some of the most impoverished communities on the planet.
 
The Donkey Sanctuary’s chief executive said: “The loss of Dr Svendsen will be felt deeply by her staff who loved her dearly, as well as Donkey Sanctuary supporters all over the world.
 
“The charity that Dr Svendsen built from nothing to the international organisation it is today, will continue its work in her memory, holding fast to her vision of a world in which every donkey and mule receives the care and respect it so needs.”
 
Dr Svendsen was a prolific author and played a key role in setting up the Companion Animal Welfare Council, which acts in an advisory capacity towards future animal welfare legislation.
 
In addition to her donkey welfare work, Dr Svendsen was a passionate advocate for riding therapy for children with special needs, which led her to establish The Elisabeth Svendsen Trust for Children and Donkeys, a charity that now runs six purpose-built centres throughout the UK.
 
Dr Svendsen died peacefully on May 11, 2011, after a stroke. Her son Paul and granddaughter Dawn remain deeply involved with the charity’s work.

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