No day off but June 15 mooted as International Working Animal Day

A working donkey in Mali. 
A working donkey in Mali. © Dylan Thomas Photography

An International Working Animal Day is to be marked next Wednesday, and aims to raise awareness about the vital role played by working animals in developing countries around the world.

Animal welfare charity Spana will launch the inaugural International Working Animal Day on June 15 to draw attention to some 200 million working horses, donkeys and camels around the world who are relied upon by a billion of the world’s poorest people for their livelihoods.

These animals do the jobs of trucks, tractors and taxis and, by transporting goods and people, make it possible for impoverished families to earn a living. Yet, a survey result of 2000 British adults carried out last month by OnePoll showed that a third of respondents did not know what a working animal was.

Despite their importance, these animals often lead short, hard lives, with tough working conditions, inadequate nutrition and no access to veterinary treatment.

Spana works in developing countries throughout the world, providing free veterinary care to sick and injured working animals, as well as working with communities to improve animal welfare through education and training. But the sheer number of working animals globally means that there are still millions of animals that currently have no form of veterinary treatment available to them.

Spana Chief Executive Jeremy Hulme said working animals were fundamental in providing a means of income for millions of poor families: “But, this vast global workforce is largely unknown and ignored.”

“In western countries working animals helped build our towns and cities, farmed our land and were our main source of transport for thousands of years. It’s a bond many have forgotten – in the UK, one in three people now don’t even know what a working animal is. However, they are still as vital to people in developing countries today as they were here a century ago,” Hulme said.

TV star Paul O’Grady is behind Spana's International Working Animal Day.
TV star Paul O’Grady is behind Spana’s International Working Animal Day. © ITV

“We believe that these animals deserve greater recognition. And, more importantly, they need our help. Many animals live and work in appalling conditions, without the care they need. But a life of work shouldn’t mean a life of suffering.”

TV star Paul O’Grady is a supporter of Spana’s International Working Animal Day.

“We need governments and aid organisations around the world to recognise the massive contribution of working animals and to make sure they get the treatment, care and compassion they deserve.

“It breaks my heart to see how hard horses, donkeys, mules and camels have to work around the world, pulling carts and carrying heavy loads. Despite how important they are, many will lead short, painful lives. Hardly any receive even basic vet care when they’re sick or injured, as it’s often not available and their owners simply can’t afford it. They deserve better,” O’Grady said.

“That’s why I support SPANA, the charity that gets free lifesaving vet care to working animals.”

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