Donkey and cart in Morocco

U.K. animal welfare charities SPANA, Brooke, The Donkey Sanctuary, and World Horse Welfare today announce their first formal coalition.

Formed specifically to put policy into practice, the coalition aims to advise, motivate and support the implementation of the first ever global welfare standards for working horses, donkeys and mules. These landmark standards were approved by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in May 2016.

This is the first time all four major charities have formally joined forces. Although not law, these landmark changes finally give legitimacy to calls for equine welfare to be improved around the world.

SPANA Morocco vets treating a muleThe coalition’s goal is to share a wealth of professional expertise and technical know-how by jointly developing training resources and working with governments, academics, communities and professionals to help put the standards into practice within the contexts of different countries, cultures and economies. Geoffrey Dennis, Chief Executive of SPANA, said:

It is very encouraging that there is now international recognition for the working equines that play a fundamental role in supporting the livelihoods of millions of families worldwide. Through veterinary treatment, education and training for animal owners, SPANA works to improve the welfare of these vitally important horses, donkeys and mules across many countries.

We are looking forward to working in partnership to ensure that the new standards are translated into practical support and action that makes a tangible difference to working animals and the communities that depend on them.

Petra Ingram, CEO at Brooke, who spearheaded the formation of the coalition and will be its Chair for the first year, believes that it’s the right vehicle to bring the standards to life:

A respected champion of change can be the difference between success and failure when it comes to implementation. Our message to countries is “let us help; equine welfare is an ally of humanitarian issues.

With 180 OIE member states now acknowledging the importance of working horses, donkeys and mules, the time is right for coordinated action to implement the standards around the world.

Chief Executive of World Horse Welfare, Roly Owers, said

We know that horses, donkeys and mules are essential to hundreds of millions of human livelihoods, and it is heartening that the world is now recognising their versatility and importance.

World Horse Welfare looks forward to working in partnership, bringing our influencing skills and 90 years of practical expertise gained helping equines around the world. The scale of the challenge to help 100 million working animals is so large that we must work together to get them the recognition and support they desperately need.

As world-leading experts in equine welfare with a combined geographic reach covering the major populations of the world’s working equines, the four UK-based charities will provide a unique resource.

Borte the brown horse receiving treatmentThe coalition’s work will use the skills the four organisations have in welfare assessment training; building capacity in equine owning communities; equipping service providers (including farriers, saddlers and vets) with the skills and tools required to provide affordable quality services. It supports universities in curriculum development, and postgraduate vets with continuing professional development; as well as raising awareness of the importance of working equids to human livelihoods with policy makers. Mike Baker, CEO of The Donkey Sanctuary, said:

This is a fantastic milestone in global equine welfare standards. Our new coalition will really maximise welfare improvements as we share our skills, resources and experience. Millions of donkeys, horses and mules work extremely hard every day and it will be wonderful to highlight how vital they are for their human owners and communities.

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6 comments on “Animal Welfare Charities Unite For Worldwide Welfare Policy

  1. Wendy Yarney on

    I am so happy to read this news. All the charities named (whom I support) do wonderful work, for the animals themselves and, by education, for the people whose livelihoods depend on them. By joining together for this venture their message will be stronger.

  2. Patricia Fennell on

    This is excellent news which will make a huge difference to all the working animals around the world. I support all four charities because I know that they do such good work and I have every confidence that my donations are always put to the best use.
    Thank you.

  3. Val Thomas on

    This is such a good idea. Will my regular to the Brooke now go to the united charity? I intended to contribute to SPANA, but will probably now simply increase my donation to the Brooke.

    • SPANA on

      Dear Val, thank you very much for your comment and for your interest in SPANA’s work.

      Through the coalition, SPANA and the other charities will be working more closely to ensure that equine welfare policy is effectively put into practice. However, we will still continue to operate as entirely separate organisations, with no shared funding. We will also continue to work in different locations around the world, helping to ensure that resources are maximised and we achieve the widest reach.

      SPANA is unique in that we work to improve the welfare of all species of working animals. This includes providing veterinary treatment to hundreds of thousands of horses, donkeys and mules worldwide each year, but we also care for camels, elephants and other working animals. Education is also at the heart of what we do, as we believe that teaching children about humane education is vital in transforming attitudes and behaviours towards animals, building respect and empathy among future generations for the long term.

      SPANA receives no government funding and we rely entirely on the kind donations we receive from our supporters to continue our work improving the lives of working animals. Please do let us know if we can provide any further information about SPANA’s work around the world. We would be so grateful for your support.

  4. Anita O'Connor on

    I am deeply glad you have moved mountains in helping and raising awareness of the plight for working Donkeys, Horse and Mules worldwide.
    And long may it continue to cultivate a standard of animal husbandry that will raise the standards of cooperative respect for animals and the people who are reliant on them. I pray the resources will be offered and met by the most needy and that their heavy burdens relieved through your extraordinary effort’s , thanking organisations such as yours forever.

  5. mandy mcarthur on

    What a great step forward. Lets hope the people in power take notice and listen to the coalition’s advice and recommends.

    Best of luck and well done. A lot of animals and people depend on you.


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