Imagine if all the working animals of the world went on strike for a day. The idea of the western world’s working animals such as police horses and sniffer dogs, and others taking a day out to show solidarity for their working colleagues overseas is the scenario of a short animated film starring a trio of British TV identities.
Actor Brian Blessed OBE, Dragons’ Den entrepreneur Deborah Meaden, and After Life 2 star Peter Egan (Shrimpie from Downton Abbey) have joined together for the film for the charity Spana (the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad).
A sniffer dog (voiced by Brian Blessed), police horse (Peter Egan) and sheepdog (played by Deborah Meaden) are comically shown ignoring their daily duties and protesting in solidarity with animals in developing countries. According to the characters, the strike is being carried out “for all the camels, donkeys and mules overseas, working as trucks, taxis and tractors, to be as looked after as we all are.”
Around the world, more than 200 million working animals, such as horses, donkeys, camels and elephants, support the livelihoods of more than half a billion people in the poorest communities. By transporting food, water, firewood and people, they make it possible for families to earn a small income.
But these animals often endure terrible working conditions, carrying backbreaking loads in extreme temperatures. In the vast majority of cases, they face short and painful lives, with no access to veterinary care when they are sick or injured.
Popular actor Brian Blessed said he supported Spana’s work wholeheartedly. “It was wonderful to be a part of this new film. In the poorest communities across the world, people work tirelessly to simply put food on the table for their families – and working animals are their lifeline. The lives of these people and animals are unimaginably difficult, but we can help make a considerable difference to them.”
Meaden said few people were aware of the suffering endured by working animals overseas. “They urgently need our help and support, and we hope this film will put working animals in the spotlight, so they can receive the same care and compassion as most animals in the UK.”
Spana improves the welfare of working animals in 26 developing countries worldwide, providing free veterinary treatment, training for owners in how to better look after their animals and humane education for school children.
Egan said education was important in ensuring that working animals can live happier, healthier lives in the future. “Spana does incredible work in helping children – the animal owners of the future – to develop feelings of respect and empathy towards animals. That is why I am so pleased to lend my support to Spana and this powerful film.”
Spana Chief Executive Geoffrey Dennis said the charity was grateful to the three identities for lending their voices to the new film. “Spana believes that a life of work should not mean a life of suffering, and it is only thanks to people’s generosity and support that we can continue our vital work improving the lives of these animals.”