April 6 marks the 100th anniversary of entry of the USA into World War One, with Brooke USA’s Horse Heroes program officially launched to commemorate the million American horses and mules who served.
The charity’s goal for Horse Heroes is to raise one million dollars this year to fund equine welfare programs in some of the poorest countries around the world.
The war horses in WW1 carried men to battle and wounded men to safety. They carried food, water, medicine, ammunition, guns, and other supplies – enormous and precious loads – to the front lines through appalling weather, over unforgiving terrain, in terrifying situations, and surrounded by dead and wounded men and animals. While often sick and wounded themselves, the animals continued to do their part, and they worked until they were annihilated by guns and poison gas, or simply died in their harnesses from exposure and sheer exhaustion.
The contributions made by horses and mules were enormous, but so were their mortality rates and their suffering. They provided immeasurable support to the military, and without their sacrifices, the war’s outcome – and now the world – would be very different. But of the one million American animals who were shipped to Europe, only 200 returned home to the US after the war.
Despite their role in the war, nearly all of the animals who had survived were abandoned by their armies to be slaughtered or sold into hard labor in the countries where they served. Dorothy Brooke, the wife of a British Army officer stationed in Cairo, became aware of the misery of those abandoned, former war heroes and rescued 5000 of them, giving them sanctuary and bringing a peaceful end to their suffering.
Today 100 million equines in developing countries are enduring similar, tremendous hardships, chronic suffering and high mortality as they labor to serve 600 million people, and Brooke is working to reach more of them than ever before. Since Dorothy rescued her first war horse, Brooke has become the world’s largest international equine welfare charity, alleviating the suffering of working equines across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Central America. Last year alone Brooke reached 2 million horses, donkeys, and mules, benefiting 12 million of the world’s poorest people.
As an official Centennial Partner of the US World War One Centennial Commission, Brooke USA’s Horse Heroes program is using this opportunity to raise awareness of the contributions that equines made to the war effort and to honor their service by helping today’s animals.
“One million horses, one million heroes, one million dollars” is Brooke USA’s clarion call for Americans to show their respect and gratitude for yesterday’s war horses through individual and corporate donations to their Horse Heroes program.