3rd Annual Donkey Welfare Symposium

Date: November 6-8, 2015
Time: Friday 8:00 am -10:00 pm, Saturday 8:00 am - 5:30 pm, Sunday 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Location: Gladys Valley Hall, UC Davis Campus
CE: up to 15 hours available on site or up to 12 hours available via webinar


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DVDs from this event will be available in February 2016.


  • Eric Lundgren
blonde donkey picture With special art video presentation by Dr. Katie Peterson of the UC Davis Department of English and  Young Suh, Co-chair of the UC Davis Art & Art History Department, on Saturday during lunch.  View clip.

Kati Anderson

Kati Anderson has been riding and working with horses all her life. She graduated from Front Range Community College in Westminster, Colorado in 2011 with a certificate in Equine Training and Management. Kati has been working for Longhopes Donkey Shelter in Bennett, Colorado for almost three years. She has three horses and two donkeys of her own.

Dr. Monica Aleman

Dr. Monica Aleman is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis. She holds a PhD in Comparative Pathology, from UC Davis and MZV Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico City. She is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine with specialty certifications in Large Animal Internal Medicine, Neurology, and Neurosurgery. Besides her clinical duties at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital and teaching assignments in the School of Veterinary Medicine, she is active in numerous research projects, and is the author of multiple scientific articles and textbook chapters. Monica has received the Annual Resident Award from the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians for excellence in residency training, the Erik Tolksdorff Olbrich Award: Best Presentation at the XXIV Annual Convention of the Mexican Association of Equine Practitioners, The ACVIM Helping Hands award for Medical collaboration with equine practitioners, and the Humphrey Knight Memorial Graduate Clinical Education Award from UC Davis.

photo of Dr. Monica Aleman, UC Davis

Dr. Laura Cavallarin

Dr. Laura Cavallarin is currently Coordinator of the Torino Research Unit, Institute of the Science of Food Production, National Research Council of Italy (ISPA-CNR). She has a permanent position as a researcher at ISPA-CNR since 2001. She received a MS degree in Biology from the University of Torino, Italy in 1991 and held a post-graduate position at the Department of Molecular Genetics, CSIC, Barcelona, Spain from 1992 to 1997. Her current research interests cover the evaluation of the effect of environment, production processes and technology treatments on feed and food quality. She has been/is PI in research projects aimed at the biochemical characterization of donkey’s milk and its use in infant nutrition. In collaboration with Emanuela Valle and Amy McLean she is also conducting research activities aimed at characterizing the nutritional status and the nutritional needs of the lactating jenny. She is a co-inventor of an international patent, whose subject-matter is a food composition derived from donkey’s milk, which is useful in the feeding of premature babies. She has acted as member of the Technical Committee, established by Regione Piemonte local government, that laid down the first regulation for the production and commercialization of raw donkey’s milk in Europe. She is the author of over 50 peer-reviewed scientific publications, conference papers and patents.

Photo of Laura Cavallarin

JoDe Collins

JoDe Collins has been raising and training donkeys for over 30 years. She competes regularly at recognized mule and donkey shows and is an avid donkey trail rider. Her training program emphasizes a donkey that is well schooled to the rein and responsive to leg aids, as well as establishing a willing, forward partner with a good work ethic. JoDe resides in Lincoln, Ca.

photo of JoDe Collins

Dr. Eric Davis

Eric graduated from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 1977. He worked as a farrier prior to this, and he has experience in private practice, veterinary academia (faculty at the University of Tennessee, staff veterinarian at Iowa State University and Purdue University), specialty practice, and veterinary aid programs.  He is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons and the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (LA).  While a faculty member at the University of Tennessee in 1996, he started Remote Area Medical Veterinary Services to provide veterinary care in underserved rural communities in the US and abroad. These have included Indian Reservations and remote communities in 12 states in the US. Internationally, he has run or participated in projects in Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Egypt, and Sri Lanka.  Currently, Eric is an Associate Veterinarian with the International Animal Welfare Training Institute, at the School of Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis, where he works with students and concentrates on world equine health and welfare problems.

Photo of Dr. Eric Davis

Patricia Demers

Patricia Demers has been recognized by the Carriage Association of America as a level II instructor since 2010 and an evaluator I since 2013 through the Driver Proficiency Program. She earned her judging card from the American Mule Association in 2014. She is proficient with single and multiple hitches, and has driven equids from minis to mules to drafts, and of course, donkeys! She specializes in pleasure, obstacle, driven dressage, and combined driving. She also enjoys starting horses in harness and under saddle, and working with beginning riders and drivers. She has ridden hunters both astride and side saddle.

Patricia Demers photo

Klaus Deubbert

Born to a family of old-fashioned German craftsman, Klaus immigrated to the US in 1982 and worked in the fields of engineering, contracting and manufacturing. He closed his factory in 1997, moved to the country and started making his living in his family trade as a blacksmith, wheelwright and wainwright. He specialize in the restoration, preservation and replication of classic carriages, carts and wagons. His growing interest in and involvement with donkeys and mules has gone hand in hand with becoming a wainwright. Touched by the plight of the American donkey, He started Long Ear Donkey Rescue in 2006. His goal is to educate drivers about the proper choice of driving gear and to ensure a good match between draft animals, carriages and wagons. His main concern is the health, safety and comfort of both humans and the draft animals. When their needs are addressed, those smart animals sure like to be able to do a job well.

Photo of Klaus Deubbert

Amy Dumas

After earning her BS in animal science at Cornell University in 1990, Amy went on to Yale  University to earn her master's degree in conservation biology in 1995.  In 2000, she went to  work for the BLM as a Wild Horse and Burro Specialist in central Nevada, bringing with her a BLM mustang she had adopted from a neighbor. As a Wild Horse and Burro Specialist, hands-on burro experience seemed a good idea, so in 2003, Amy adopted a 2 year-old gelding from the BLM. Amy and her burro have participated in numerous parades, fairs, shows, expos, and visited schools educating people about the value of the burros. Amy has been the Wild Horse and Burro Program Manager for BLM California, based in Sacramento, since 2008, where she and her burro still do as much outreach as possible.

Photo of Amy Dumas

Dr. Lauren Ellse

Dr. Lauren Ellse graduated from the University of Bristol in 2010 with a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry. She completed a PhD in Veterinary Parasitology in 2013 that was funded by the Donkey Sanctuary and involved the study of the epidemiology and control of the donkey chewing louse, Bovicola ocellatus.  Since then she has been a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Bristol and has continued to study donkey chewing lice and the use of natural extracts in their control. 

photo of Dr. Lauren Ellse

Ben Hart

Ben Hart hates injustice and wasted potential, and he has a mission to help people understand the true nature of equines by using the honesty of the science of behaviour to help both animals and their people unlock their true potential.  He firmly believes working with equines doesn't have to be complicated, dangerous or stressful and by helping people to understand the true and amazing behaviour of equines, he wants them to better understand each other to make life better for donkeys, mules and horses. Ben removes the myths, dependence on dominance and forceful training methods and focuses on positive, safe effective solutions that centre on both the animal and the human.  Ben's delivery of training is unique, ensuring an outstanding experience that is enjoyable and life changing.  Ben is also the author of several books on equine behaviour and clicker training, as well as the creator of a unique series of individual equine training plans He has worked with horses, mules, donkeys and people all over the world: from mustangs and race horses in California, stock horses in Australia, pleasure horses Canada and Europe, and working equines in Cambodia and Ethiopia, Mexico, Kenya.

Photo of Ben Hart

Heidi Hopkins

Heidi has been with The Humane Society of the United States for 8 years where she has focused on wild horse and burro advocacy and fertility control in wild herds. She has a BS in Wildlife Management from The Ohio State University and an MS in Wildlife Biology from The University of Memphis. Heidi worked for the Bureau of Land Management as a Wild Horse Specialist for 5 years. She currently focuses on increasing adoptions of BLM burros and investigating the use of fertility control vaccines on wild burros herds. Heidi also started The Burro Training Program, where burros are placed with trainers who earn money gentling a burro and locating a qualified adopter.

Photo of Heidi Hopkins

Caitlin Howard

Caitlin has been riding since the age of 8 and has over 15 years experience in the professional equine world. Born and raised in Colorado, she spent the first ten years of her equine career apprenticing at a small eventing facility where she worked with off track thoroughbreds. Additionally, she spent two summers in the mountains of Cody Wyoming as a wrangler. Her love of donkeys started four years ago when she attended a pack burro race. Currently, she works as the assistant trainer at Old Glory Ranch, in Conifer, Colorado. She also trains rescued donkeys for Longhopes Donkey Shelter. Caitlin resides in the mountains of Colorado with her husband and two wonderful donkeys. 

photo of Caitlin Howard

Kay Keller

Kay Keller is a life-long student of equines. Together with her husband, Ross Keller, she owns and operates The Two Sweet Ltd., d/b/a Keller Equine Services, in Parker, Colorado. They teach donkeys and their people how to expand their long eared horizons. Kay and Ross ride, drive, show, burro race and pack into the wilderness with their donkeys. Their activities have provided plenty of obstacle experience and stories to tell!

Photo of Kay Keller

Ross Keller

Ross Keller is a farrier and trainer specializing in donkey and mule hoof care.  He as fifteen years experience in providing donkey training and hoof care.  Over the last 4 years he has worked as a full time hoof care and training professional.  Ross has developed hoof trimming protocols and procedures specific to the donkey and regularly performs corrective trimming.  Ross is the lead farrier and board vice president for Longhopes Donkey Shelter located in Bennett, Colorado.  Ross is certified through the Equine Lameness Prevention Organization and is a regular participant in that organization’s clinics and events.  The seven donkeys at the Keller ranch regularly participate in trail rides, go packing, drive their carts, run in burro races, and sometime just go out for a picnic!

photo of Ross Keller

Gemma Lilly

After graduating with first class honours in Equine Dental Science in 2005, Gemma Lilly, BAEDT, BSc (Hons) EDS, BA (Hons) ESBM, worked in private practice.  Next, she joined the Donkey Sanctuary veterinary department.  Gemma passed the British Veterinary Dental Association (BVDA) and British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) examination for Equine Dental Technicians in 2009, and joined the British Association for Equine Dental Technicians (BAEDT) the same year.  After forming part of the Council for the BAEDT, Gemma was elected to become the first and as yet only female Chairperson. During her time on Council and as Chair, Gemma formed part of the consortium which generated the National Occupational Standards framework with LANTRA and DEFRA, reviewed the professional standards of the examination process and supported the ongoing efforts for legislative change in the UK. Gemma was appointed to the board of examiners for the BEVA/BVDA Examination for Equine Dental Technicians and is a regular speaker and tutor.  She is also the author of donkey dental information and a mentor to student members of the BAEDT.

Photo of Gemma Lilly

Dr. Katie Peterson and Young Suh

Dr. Katie Peterson is the author of three books of poetry, This One Tree, Permission, and The Accounts. Her poems, essays, and reviews have been published widely, in Poetry, the New York Times Magazine, and other publications. She received a doctorate in English from Harvard University where she wrote a thesis on Emily Dickinson. She teaches in the English department and the Graduate Writing Program at the UC Davis.

Young Suh is an artist and teaches in the Art Studio Department at the UC Davis. His photographic work addresses the complex nature of the human involvement in managing natural resources and the shifting concepts of nature in the contemporary society. Over the last 12 years he has completed two major projects, “Instant Traveler” and “Wildfires.” He had solo exhibitions with Haines Gallery, San Francisco, Center for Contemporary Art, Sacramento, Clifford Smith Gallery, Boston, and Gallery ON, Seoul, Korea. His work was also shown at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and Seoul International Photography Festival.

Photo of Dr. Katie Peterson and Young Suh

Dr. Leanne Proops

Leanne is a postdoctoral fellow conducting research in the field of equine cognition. She holds a 1st class honors degree in Experimental Psychology from Sussex University and a Masters degree (dist.) in Animal Behavior from Exeter University. Her main interest is in comparative equine cognition, and she has published research assessing welfare, learning and social behavior in donkeys, horses and mules. Her PhD explored social cognition in horses, and in 2009 she was awarded the Cozzarelli Prize at the National Academy of Science in America for her work looking at individual recognition in horses. In 2012 she moved to Tokyo University to study social behavior and temperament in feral Misaki horses, spending a year following a free-ranging population in Southern Japan. Now back with the research team at Sussex, she is working on a 3-year project investigating individual differences in emotional intelligence and social success in horses. She recently contributed to a project led by the British Equestrian Federation aimed at improving equine end of life welfare and continues to work closely with the Donkey Sanctuary on projects comparing donkey, horse and mule behavior and welfare needs. In addition to conducting research, Leanne is a lecturer in comparative social cognition and referee for 16 international scientific journals. She is a Chartered Psychologist and member of The Association for the Study of Animal Behavior, Animal Behavior Society, The Comparative Cognition Society, International Society for Applied Ethology and the International Society for Equitation Science.

Photo of Dr. Leanne Proops

Dr. Steve Purdy

Dr. Steve Purdy is a 1981 graduate of the Cornell University Veterinary School.  He has been involved in large animal practice with equines since graduation.  He saw his first donkey in Massachusetts in 1990 when approached by an owner who could not find anyone to work on her animals.  Professing no knowledge at all but a willingness to learn he started working with long ears with the assistance of that owner and her animals.  His work with and education on and by donkeys continues.  Steve uses his own small herd of donkeys in the course of teaching future veterinary students and animal scientists equine husbandry, behavior, reproduction, and problem solving.  He has owned horses and other farm animals in the past but now only has donkeys and alpacas which are also used for teaching purposes. He has experience using donkeys as teachers of middle and high school special education students.  He has advised many people to spend time with a donkey if they are having a bad day- things will always improve as a result.

photo of Dr. Steve Purdy

Dr. Karen Rickards

Dr. Karen Rickards graduated from Bristol University in 1994. She worked in private practice with a predominantly equine caseload and then received a PhD from The Royal Veterinary College investigating airway inflammation in horses with RAO followed by a postdoctoral position in the same subject area. She taught pharmacology at Kings College London and then took up her current position as Principal Veterinary Surgeon at the Donkey Sanctuary where she has been for the last 7 years. The Donkey Sanctuary provides veterinary care for 2,500 donkeys and also support to colleagues caring for donkeys in Europe. The Donkey Sanctuary provides training and education to vets, vet students, equine dental students, donkey owners, farriers and apprentices. Additionally, it provides help and advice to vets around the world.

photo of Dr. Karen Rickards

Dr. Joao Rodriguez

João received his degree in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal in 2007. He spent the next two years doing clinical work in Portugal and Spain, mostly with endangered breeds of donkeys (the Mirandês and the Zamorano-leonés donkeys). He has conducted many workshops focused on donkeys health and welfare. During this same period he developed his interest, knowledge and skills in veterinary  dentistry. In 2009, he began his PhD program focusing on research in the field of donkey dentistry in collaboration with the University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro and at Complutense University of Madrid. João is also a former partner and board member of the Portuguese Society of Veterinary Dentistry, and he is classified as an Expert in Veterinary Dentistry and Maxillofacial Surgery by the Complutense University of Madrid. João is a guest trainer in several international projects focused on improving the welfare of working equids in Portugal, Spain, Morocco (American Fondouk) and Mexico. As a result of his research work, João has attended some of the most relevant national and international conferences in his research field, and he is also the author of scientific papers in the field of donkey dentistry.


Photo of Dr. Joao Rodrigues

Dr. Clair Thunes

Based in Sacramento, California, Dr. Clair Thunes owns and operates Summit Equine Nutrition LLC, an independent equine nutrition consulting company. She works with owners, trainers, and veterinarians across the United States and around the world to take the guesswork out of feeding horses, mules and donkeys. Born in England, Thunes earned her undergraduate degree at Edinburgh University in Scotland and her master’s and doctorate in nutrition at the University of California, Davis. Growing up, she competed in a wide array of disciplines and was an active member of the United Kingdom Pony Club. Today, she serves as the regional supervisor for the Sierra Pacific region of the United States Pony Club. As a nutritionist she works with a wide range of equids, from World Equestrian Games competitors to miniature donkeys and everything in between. Additionally she teaches equine nutrition and equine exercise physiology at University of California Davis and equine health at Cosumnes River College.

photo of Dr. Clair Thunes

Dr. Emanuela Valle

Dr. Emanuela Valle is a DVM, and she obtained a PhD in animal reproduction. She specializes in nutrition at the European College of Veterinary Comparative, and she spent a six months period as a visiting researcher at the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center (Virginia Tech). She has a permanent position as assistant professor at the Department of Veterinary Science of Torino. She is in charge of the nutrition consultation service at the teaching veterinary hospital, with particular reference to the nutrition of equine patients. Her teaching activities are related to animal management and equine welfare courses and equine clinical nutrition for vet students.  In 2014 she obtained a grant from the University of Torino  to evaluate the management and the nutritional status of dairy donkeys in the Piedmont region. She is the author of over 50 peer-reviewed scientific publications, conference papers, abstracts and lectures. She is currently involved in different  projects related to equine management to improve the management and nutrition of dairy donkeys with Laura Cavallarin and Amy McLean.

Photo of Dr. Emanuela Valle

Joel Viloria

Joel Viloria is originally from the greater San Diego area where he grew up with horses as a part of everyday life.  He started showing Draft Horses at the age of 8 and continued showing competitively until arriving at UC Davis as an undergraduate.  Joel graduated from UC Davis with a Bachelor’s of Science in Animal Science and Management with an emphasis in Equine.  Joel is excited to continue with the rich heritage of the Animal Science Department and the Horse Barn.  He is dedicated and excited to be teaching the next generation of horsemen and women that will help lead the industry.

photo of Joel Viloria

Dr. Becky Whay

Dr. Becky Whay graduated from the University of Leeds in the UK with an honours degree in agricultural animal science in 1994 and was awarded a PhD from Bristol University in 1998 following work to improve methods of pain relief for UK dairy cattle. For the past 12 years she has run projects aimed at better understanding and improving the lives of working donkeys, mules and horses in countries such as India, Pakistan, Kenya, Egypt, Jordan, Afghanistan, Nicaragua and Guatemala. She is currently working with The Donkey Sanctuary on a project based in Ethiopia to conduct an in depth evaluation of the social and economic value of donkeys to their owners.

photo of Dr. Becky Whay

Dr. Jane Wick

Dr. Jane Wick has been in private practice in Pasadena, California since 1989. She is a graduate of the California School of Professional Psychology (1987) and did an internship at the Veterans' Administration in Los Angele, completing her Post Doctorate at Fuller Graduate School of Psychology. Specializing in the treatment of depression, anxiety and relationship difficulties, Dr. Wick uses EAGALA (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association) in her practice. Dr. Wick and her assistant, Steven P. Nelson, operate the Denim n’ Dirt Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Center, using a variety of horses and donkeys to help patients with various psychological and emotional problems.

Photo of Dr. Jane Wick