Major charities unite to make the world a better place for equines

Four equines working together in India.
Four equines working together in India. © Brooke / Freya Dowson

A coalition between four major equine charities has Brooke, The Donkey Sanctuary, Spana and World Horse Welfare officially teaming up to advocate for equine welfare issues.

This is the first time all four major charities have formally joined forces.

Formed specifically to put policy into practice, the coalition aims to advise, motivate and support the implementation of the first ever global welfare standards for working horses, donkeys and mules. These landmark standards were approved by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in May 2016 following advocacy and technical support from Brooke and World Horse Welfare.

Although not law, these landmark changes finally give legitimacy to calls for improvements in equine welfare around the world.

More than 500,000 animals work in the brick kiln industry.
More than 500,000 animals work in the brick kiln industry. © Brooke

The formation of the coalition was spearheaded by Brooke CEO Peta Ingram. “A respected champion of change can be the difference between success and failure when it comes to implementation. Our message to countries is “let us help; equine welfare is an ally of humanitarian issues,” she said.

The coalition’s work will use the skills the four organisations have in welfare assessment training; building capacity in equine owning communities; equipping service providers (including farriers, saddlers and vets) with the skills and tools required to provide affordable quality services. It supports universities in curriculum development, and postgraduate vets with continuing professional development; as well as raising awareness of the importance of working equids to human livelihoods with policy makers.

As world-leading experts in equine welfare with a combined geographic reach covering the major populations of the world’s working equines, the four UK-based charities will provide a unique resource.

With 180 OIE member states now acknowledging the importance of working horses, donkeys and mules, the time is right for coordinated action to implement the standards around the world, Ingram said.

World Horse Welfare Chief Executive Roly Owers said it was heartening that the versatility and importance of horses, donkeys and mules to hundreds of millions of human livelihoods.

“World Horse Welfare looks forward to working in partnership, bringing our influencing skills and 90 years of practical expertise gained helping equines around the world. The scale of the challenge to help 100 million working animals is so large that we must work together to get them the recognition and support they desperately need.”

Spana Chief Executive Geoffrey Dennis said the charity was looking forward to working in partnership to ensure that the new standards are translated into practical support and action.

The Donkey Sanctuary CEO Mike Baker said the coalition was a milestone in global equine welfare standards. “Our new coalition will really maximise welfare improvements as we share our skills, resources and experience. Millions of donkeys, horses and mules work extremely hard every day and it will be wonderful to highlight how vital they are for their human owners and communities.”

A working donkey in Mali. © Spana
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