The SPANA story

SPANA was founded in 1923 by Kate Hosali and her daughter Nina, after they witnessed the suffering of animals on their travels through north Africa.

We realised that behind that façade of picturesque beauty there existed a vast sea of neglected animal suffering. How many tourists had glimpsed this hidden world and like us done nothing about it?

 Nina Hosali, SPANA founder

They planned to set up a service that offered practical help and acknowledged the extreme poverty of animal owners, and their lack of medicines and education.

Kate returned to Africa to treat as many animals as she could, while Nina set up SPANA in London.

A determination to help

In a time when a woman travelling alone was frowned upon, Kate worked tirelessly and selflessly. Through hardwork and determination, she won the respect and friendship of the local people.

Kate recalls in a letter in 1925:

"Early on my first morning I went to the market place and treated a donkey’s sore and said the magic word 'Batel' (free).

“Before I had finished two more were at my elbow and before I had done those I was in a crowd of Arabs and donkeys. From that moment I never raised my eyes from donkey's backs. The crowd came and came. I counted up to forty then lost count. There were always six more waiting to be treated.”

“Next day, exactly the same thing happened and I expect this will continue until they all get cured."

Kate criss-crossed Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia, visiting 58 towns and news about her spread. They even started to call her the Toubiba (“Lady Doctor”).

The demand for SPANA grows

Demand for SPANA’s free veterinary care grew rapidly and centres were established across North and West Africa. Kate devoted 21 years of her life to saving animals, before she passed away in 1944, aged 67.

After WWII – a new beginning

Nina took on the task of rebuilding SPANA’s services after the Second World War and extended the humane education side of SPANA’s work. She believed that, by ensuring school children understood basic principles of animal welfare, they would be less likely to treat their animals badly in the future.

Like her mother, Nina dedicated the rest of her life to SPANA. After 42 years of selfless devotion she passed away in 1987, aged 89. This dedication led to Nina being awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 1976.

Kate and Nina’s amazing compassion remains at the heart of SPANA's work to this day.

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