03/13/2013 10:34 EDT | Updated 05/13/2013 05:12 EDT

Chase, B.C. Woman Raising Money To Rescue 15 Mini-Donkeys

Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge

An animal sanctuary is trying to raise $4,000 to transport 15 miniature donkeys from Vancouver Island to the province's interior.

The mini-donkeys — which are similar to large dogs in size — are currently being cared for by a man in Victoria.

But Shirley Mainprize, owner of the Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge, says the man is very ill and unable to care for the donkeys.

"This story isn't uncommon," Mainprize said. "We are seeing a lot of people under financial duress and it comes down to whether they buy groceries or buy worm paste."

She's now collecting donations to cover the travel costs of the donkeys from Victoria to the refuge in Chase, B.C., where Mainprize says she is already caring for 39 donkeys of various sizes.

"It's our biggest rescue," Mainprize told CBC News. "A few years ago we rescued some six mammoths, but because these are on Vancouver Island, the ferry charges and the fuel are going to be horrendous."

The average life expectancy of a mini-donkey is 35 years.

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