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In Memoriam: Lisa

1986 – April 14, 2024

Eulogy by Susan Wagner

Lisa was our oldest equine at the sanctuary. In fact, she was our oldest equine ever.

We rescued Lisa on October 18, 2006, along with six other small equines – two Pygmy Donkeys (including Lisa), one Miniature Donkey, and four Miniature Horses. They were part of a rescue purchase at the sale of 1000 animals who had gone up for bid and lived at the now defunct “zoological park” known as the Catskill Game Farm that operated for years in upstate New York.

At the time, Lisa’s best friend was Pat, one of the other Pygmy Donkeys we rescued that day. Both had been used as breeding stock and had been severely neglected. Pat was unsound and in foal at the time of her rescue. Fortunately, the foal she gave birth to six months later at the sanctuary was healthy. On April 30, 2007, Casey was born. Today he is thriving and lives in a section of the sanctuary we call Pony Hill.

Lisa (front) and Pat were the best of friends.


Like Pat, Lisa was unsound from the day we got her as her feet were dangerously long. She had multiple issues with both front feet due primarily to the neglect and poor conditions under which she and many of the other animals lived. However, from the day she arrived at the sanctuary, Lisa was always feisty and funny and never allowed her soundness issues to stop her from enjoying her life and having fun.

However, by the end of 2012, Pat’s soundness issues were worsening, and we had to face the sad fact that we were going to have to humanely euthanize her at some point as there was no hope for recovery. We located an adorable Miniature Donkey named Alice to introduce to them so that Lisa would have a friend when Pat passed. The three girls bonded and when the time came to put Pat down, both Lisa and Alice were with her along with our staff as the vet put Pat to sleep.

When Pat passed away in January of 2013, Lisa (left) quickly bonded with Alice.


I knew that over time, I would have to do the same thing for Alice. Fast forward to 2023 – Lisa had grown to such an old age that I did not want to risk not having a friend for Alice if Lisa was to pass. They were so closely bonded that Alice would have been lost without her longtime friend. Finally, just this past Friday, two Miniature Donkeys named Chloe and Daisy arrived at the sanctuary. We immediately began introducing them to Alice and Lisa. However, on Sunday, everything suddenly changed. Lisa had eaten her breakfast as usual and seemed fine until later in the afternoon when she was just not herself. She decided to lie down but was not able to get back up. We called the vet, but by the time our vet got here, we all knew Lisa’s time had come.

Our two equine care managers and I surrounded Lisa to say our goodbyes – and Alice, who knew exactly what was happening, did the same thing in her own way. It was hard to see her so sad.

The next day, Alice, Chloe, and Daisy were turned out together. Even though they had only just met a day and a half before, Alice clearly needed to be in their company, and they have been together ever since.

Alice (far right) with her two new friends, Chloe (far left) and Daisy, photographed together at the sanctuary.


Our sweet, funny, and endearing little Lisa was with us for 18 years as she was 20 when we got her. It is nothing short of a miracle that she lived to 38 despite all the health issues she had during her long and wonderful life. Lisa was a real fighter, survivor, and quite the little character. She took to sanctuary life well and clearly loved all the attention she received from our caring staff and volunteers.

As for myself, I can only say that it was a privilege to have Lisa at the sanctuary and in our lives for so long. I am going to miss her every day.

Susan Wagner
President and Founder