Clay County

10-year-old from Middleburg gets emotional support donkey for her donkey

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. — Jazmyne Fertig is a 10-year-old soon-to-be fifth grader with an unusual best friend: a donkey — named Donkey.

Donkey wandered into her family’s pasture a few months ago. He belonged to her neighbor. But after several more escapes to Jazmyne’s house, her neighbor gave Donkey to the 10-year-old.

She’s gone through a tough time recently, after experiencing some trauma. Jewish Family & Communities Services (JFCS), a local nonprofit, has been working with the Fertig family with services, such as therapy and support, as Jazmyne heals.

Donkey’s presence has been therapeutic for Jazmyne. She’s become more social. She’s doing better in school (straight A’s!). Overall, he gives her a reason to wake up in the morning, according to Jazmyne’s dad, Dustin Fertig.

It came to their attention that the reason Donkey kept escaping to Jazmyne’s yard was that he had lost a friend — the neighbor’s Clydesdale, who passed away recently.

Jazmyne wanted to give Donkey a new four-hooved companion. She told her JFCS caseworker her dilemma and asked if he could get her a donkey.

They got to work, and it wasn’t long before Jazmyne and Donkey gained a third best friend, Willie.