Late vet’s donkey work recognised by equine veterinary body

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Dr Elisabeth Svendsen.
Dr Elisabeth Svendsen. © The Donkey Sanctuary

International charity The Donkey Sanctuary is thrilled that its founder has been recognised by the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) as one of 60 influential figures who have inspired, developed and advanced the veterinary profession over the last 60 years.

BEVA members nominated hundreds of individuals, from which the Trustees made a final decision selecting 60 recipients as examples of those who have made an impact on the profession for its 60 faces campaign as part of its 60th-anniversary celebrations.

The late Dr Elisabeth Svendsen founded The Donkey Sanctuary in 1969. Since then, it has grown from a charity rescuing UK donkeys from neglect and abuse, to an international welfare organisation transforming the lives of millions of donkeys and mules, and the people who depend on them for a living.

Svendsen was awarded the MBE in 1981 for her services to donkeys and mules. She received an Honorary Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine and Surgery 1992, and in 2009 was awarded a degree of Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Edinburgh.

Svendsen died in May 2011 aged 81, but her legacy continues through the work of staff and volunteers, at what is now the largest equine charity in the world.

Alex Thiemann, Senior Veterinary Surgeon at The Donkey Sanctuary described Svendsen and her work as “a huge personal inspiration for me and countless other vets who love donkeys”.

Dr Elisabeth Svendsen and three members of The Donkey Sanctuary family in 1986.
Dr Elisabeth Svendsen and three members of The Donkey Sanctuary family in 1986. © The Donkey Sanctuary

“The range and depth of her vision now inspire a global charity at the forefront of equid welfare. I had the privilege to know her and enjoy her company. She had a great sense of humour and huge work ethic, and ensured donkeys always came 1st, 2nd and 3rd.”

BEVA CEO David Mountford said it was incredibly hard to select 60 people from all the worthy nominees we received. “But Dr Svendsen had a huge impact on the life of donkeys around the world and as a consequence on the equine veterinary profession.”

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