Financial woes, Coronavirus may force closure of Animal Health Trust

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Renowned British dressage horse Valegro uses the Animal Health Trust's water treadmill. The AHT has worked with Hartpury University and Centaur Biomechanics to research the short and long-term effects of water treadmill use.
Renowned British dressage horse Valegro uses the Animal Health Trust’s water treadmill. The AHT has worked with Hartpury University and Centaur Biomechanics to research the short and long-term effects of water treadmill use. © Hartpury University / AHT

One of Britain’s most respected charities is facing closure following a period of dire financial constraints, and the economic implications of the Covid-19 virus.

The Animal Health Trust, based in Newmarket, made the announcement at the weekend that its future was grim. It has been in existence for more than 75 years and has made a significant difference to the health and welfare of animals over the years. Its equine referral clinic is considered world-class, with specialists in lameness, oncology and diagnostic imaging.

The AHT pioneered the use of HDR brachytherapy in horses, to treat sarcoids and other tumours around the eye.

It holds DNA samples for every thoroughbred registered in the UK. It also houses the UK’s largest canine genome bank which holds the entire genomes of 89 dogs from 77 breeds, which it uses to tackle inherited diseases.

The AHT’s Trustees and Executive Committee continue to seek out emergency funding in order to save the charity but without an urgent input of funds, it is likely to close on March 31, 2020.

“Much of the work we do is unique, and without us, this work will cease, putting thousands of animals at risk from disease and injury,” a statement from the AHT said.

Its emergency funding measures include the potential use of recently announced Government Schemes, “in order to save the unparalleled knowledge and expertise the organisation houses”.

Management of the charity was working with the AHT’s 257 members of staff to support them through the coming weeks.

In the hours following its announcement, the AHT received many messages of support and offers of donations, but said in the current scenario it “feels wrong to accept this funding as we would not be able to return it”.

“We feel it would be disingenuous if we took donations from you now and the funds raised are still insufficient to save the AHT, and it subsequently closes.”

Instead, it urged supported to help spread the word about its work and why it was such a vital resource to animal welfare.

“Please help us tell our story by sharing this post, in the hope that a wealthy individual, corporate or person of influence sees it and can help us.”

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