It’s hard to believe that something as absurd as "donkey basketball" still exists in this day and age, but sadly, it's true. During these cruel "games"—which some schools hold as fundraisers—donkeys are dragged, kicked, and punched by participants who have no animal-handling experience. Donkeys are not protected by the federal Animal Welfare Act, and local humane agencies tend to be reluctant to get involved in cruelty cases involving donkeys, since employees typically don’t have any experience working with donkeys or any knowledge about them.
Donkey basketball fundraisers send kids the message that it’s OK to abuse and humiliate those who are weaker than they are. Children who are exposed to animal abuse are taught the dangerous lesson that cruelty is acceptable. After an extensive study of the links between cruelty to animals and human abuse, experts Stephen R. Kellert and Alan R. Felthous concluded, "The evolution of a more gentle and benign relationship in human society might be enhanced by our promotion of a more positive and nurturing ethic between children and animals."
Schools from coast to coast have stopped hosting cruel donkey basketball fundraisers because they want to help nurture kind kids, not bullies. The U.S. National Parent-Teacher Association Congress states, "Children trained to extend justice, kindness, and mercy to animals become more just, kind, and considerate in their [interactions] with each other."
Like many animals, donkeys who are mistreated or forced into loud, confusing environments can become frightened and may lash out to protect themselves. A participant in a Waterloo, Illinois, donkey basketball game was awarded more than $110,000 for injuries that he sustained in a game, and in another game, a Wisconsin state senator fell off a donkey and broke her leg. In February 2006, a fifth-grade teacher in Florida sued the Diocese of St. Petersburg and the owner of the Dixie Donkey Ball company claiming that she had suffered injuries after being thrown off a donkey at a fundraiser.
There are loads of innovative and humane fundraising opportunities, including dodgeball and rubber-duck derby races. No one has to resort to cruelty to cash in. For example, in Grants Pass, Oregon, three Rotary Clubs grossed $133,000 in rubber-duck derby races. The following are some steps you can take to help put donkey basketball out to pasture:
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.