NEWBURYPORT — A group of friendly donkeys, horses and mini ponies will be making their way to the city Saturday morning when the Equine Rescue Network's Summer Stroll fundraiser takes place at Cashman Park.
Local resident Betsy Shea-Davis is a volunteer for the nonprofit organization, which keeps roughly 30 horses, donkeys and mules at any given time at three North Shore locations — Groton House Farm in South Hamilton, Meredith Farm in Topsfield and Crazy Acres/Service Dog Project in Ipswich.
The visit to Cashman Park starts at 11 a.m., according to Shea-Davis.
"We are going to have Bucko and Flossy the donkeys," Shea-Davis said. "We will also have two horses, Floyd and Freedom."
Mini ponies Pixie, Romeo and Fluff will also visit.
"The animals are just wonderful," she said. "They are sweet and approachable, and are great ambassadors for saving these lives. Otherwise, these animals are sold at auction and they go to Canada or Mexico to be used for meat. So we go to the auctions and outbid the other buyers. We keep the animals healthy and rehabilitate them and then we find them homes."
Equine Rescue Network founder Janine Jacques started the nonprofit organization from her Boxford home in 2011 and also has barns in Pennsylvania and Virginia.
"Over 100,000 horses and donkeys and mules go to slaughter in Canada and Mexico each year," Jacques said. "This is a really unknown statistic."
The Summer Stroll travels from Cashman to Waterfront Park, and eventually across Water Street to Market Square, Shea-Davis said.
"Can you believe it?" she said. "We're going to have donkeys, mini ponies and horses in Market Square. It is going to be awesome."
The money raised by the Equine Rescue Network gives the organization a chance to save animals that bring joy to many people, Shea-Davis said.
"We just want to bring some joy and life into downtown Newburyport," she said. "It has been a tough year with COVID and last summer was a bust. These animals bring a lot of joy to a lot of people. There is just something about being able to walk up to a horse and say, 'Hi.' That is kind of magic. It really is."
The Equine Rescue Network website is at http://equinerescuenetwork.com/.
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.