FAQs

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1.  What is Brooke USA?

Brooke USA is a United States-based fundraising organization that exists solely to support the overseas work of the Brooke. Through donations from generous American citizens, we are able to help fulfil the vision of the Brooke: a world in which working horses, donkeys, and mules are free from suffering.


2. What is the Brooke?

The Brooke is the world’s largest international equine welfare charity.  For more than 80 years the Brooke has been alleviating the suffering of horses, donkeys, and mules owned by poor people in developing countries. Our veterinarians and animal health teams provide treatment for working animals, and education and training to animal owners in poor communities to make long-term welfare improvements for their animals.   We also work with these communities, local organizations, and governments to improve access to vital services. We reached 1.8 million animals in 2014/15.
 


This pack mule is part of a mule train that is carrying supplies in Nepal.

This pack mule is part of a mule train that is carrying supplies in Nepal.

3. Why does the Brooke exist- what is our mission, what are our values?

The Brooke is dedicated to improving the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules. The Brooke believes that most animal suffering is preventable and that good animal welfare also protects human livelihoods. 100 million working equines are the engines that power the developing world, doing the hardest jobs under the toughest conditions to support the livelihoods of 600 million people. That’s 9% of the world’s population. The Brooke works together with local communities to bring about lasting improvements to the lives of their working animals.

Our Values

We are:

•Passionate: an international organization of passionate and dedicated people, determined to improve the welfare of working horses, donkeys and mules.

• Collaborative: working in an inclusive and collaborative way.

•Groundbreaking: evidence-based and committed to organizational learning.

•Accountable: accountable and transparent in all our work.

•Effective: committed to making the most effective use of resources to bring about practical lasting changes.

•Respectful: respectful of animals, people and the environment.

The Brooke recently began a pilot project to help horses who work in a garbage dump in Mexico.

The Brooke recently began a pilot project to help horses who work in a garbage dump in Mexico.

Our mission

The Brooke and thus Brooke USA works directly and through partners to do whatever will most improve the welfare of working horses, donkeys and mules through the alleviation of existing suffering and the development of equine welfare practices and facilities to prevent and reduce suffering in the future.

Our vision

The Brooke's vision is of a world in which working horses, donkeys and mules are free from suffering.

The Brooke delivers practical programs and provides support, advice, funding and infrastructure to its global network of employees, partners and supporters to make that vision a reality.


A Brooke veterinarian examines a working horse in Lahore, Pakistan

A Brooke veterinarian examines a working horse in Lahore, Pakistan

4. How was the Brooke founded, what is our history, and what are our achievements so far?

The Brooke started when our founder, Dorothy Brooke, moved to Egypt and began rescuing thousands of ex war horses that had been left behind by the military after WWI.  They had been sold into lives of hard labor after the war, mistreated, and were suffering terribly.  In April 1931, the Daily Telegraph, (then the Morning Post), published a letter written by Dorothy asking the public for donations to help the animals. Her pleas were heard and she raised enough money to buy back 5,000 of the surviving horses. In 1934, she set up a free veterinary clinic in Cairo – The Old War Horse Memorial Hospital, known today as the Brooke.

In the next 80 years, the Brooke expanded into 11 more countries, and last year alone we reached 1.8 million working horses, donkeys and mules who had access to our services, benefitting 10 million people.  We are on target to reach two million in 2016, which will benefit 12 million of the world’s poorest people.

Brooke USA was created as a 501(c)(3) in the United States for the sole purpose of raising money to support overseas programs of the Brooke, as directed and approved by the Board of Directors.


5. How much of my donation will go directly to the animals?

Last year alone the Brooke’s work reached 1.8 animals across Asia, Africa and Latin America . In the US, thanks to a three-year operational grant, 94% of the money we raise locally goes directly to support the mission of the Brooke.

Our current program countries, with the year that we began operations there in brackets:

Egypt (1934)

Jordan (1988)

Pakistan (1991)

India (1992)

Kenya (2001)

Afghanistan (2003)

Ethiopia (2006)

Guatemala (2006)

Nepal (2007)

Senegal (2010)

Nicaragua (2013)

Mexico (2015)

Fundraising offices:

 UK – London, England (Brooke headquarters)

 Netherlands

USA - Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky


We encourage owners to carry water and fodder with them so their equine working partners can have a drink and a meal during busy work days.

We encourage owners to carry water and fodder with them so their equine working partners can have a drink and a meal during busy work days.

 7. How do we measure that we make a difference?

Our teams conduct welfare assessments of the animals before, during, and after our programs to find out whether equine welfare is improving in our areas of operation. The Brooke also conducts regular research, including studies with owners and communities to see what impact its interventions are having.

The Brooke is also initiating an Effectiveness Framework project to develop tools to measure and report the impact of our veterinary, community engagement and advocacy work more effectively. Clinical quality monitoring tools have been rolled-out, and each country program produced comprehensive annual reports, showing what we have achieved and what the aim is for the future.


The Brooke is working with coal mine owners to improve the welfare of the animals who labor deep inside mine shafts to haul dirt and coal to the surface.

The Brooke is working with coal mine owners to improve the welfare of the animals who labor deep inside mine shafts to haul dirt and coal to the surface.

9. What are the main welfare issues/problems working equine animals face?

Animals and their owners often work in extreme conditions in some of the harshest environments on earth. While many working equines suffer from lameness, wounds, exhaustion, dehydration, heat stress - the factors affecting these issues vary widely according to a country context.  Extreme heat, difficult terrain and long hours can cause many health problems. For example, 90% of the animals we work with have hoof problems, and many suffer from wounds, exhaustion, dehydration and heat stress.

There is immense pressure on owners to make a living. Many animals are overloaded with more than one person or heavy passengers and made to carry heavy loads many times a day. They can also be subjected to beatings as owners make their animals work harder and faster.

Many animals are overworked and have little or no access to shade, water or rest. But many of the problems that cause animal suffering can be prevented through better care.


10. Why don’t they use vehicles instead of animals for work?

Vehicles are beyond the financial reach of the poor, are very difficult to acquire, and even more difficult to maintain and repair in developing countries.  Gasoline and oil are also not easily accessed and are cost-prohibitive. 

Additionally, many places where the Brooke is working are not easily accessible by vehicles.  As the cost of owning and operating a vehicle continues to rise, more and more people are turning to working animals.

Unlike motorized vehicles, equines can be used easily by virtually all ages, including women and children, maximizing families' earning potential.


Our Brooke mobile veterinary units are able to reach animals in even remote areas.

Our Brooke mobile veterinary units are able to reach animals in even remote areas.

11. How many veterinary clinics/mobile units/staff are there across Brooke operations?

The Brooke (and its affiliates) employs around 1,000 staff world-wide, including veterinary surgeons, animal welfare specialists, community animal health workers, and development specialists.

There are 11 static clinics which are in Egypt and Pakistan (Pakistan calls them Equine Welfare Centers). We also have more than 270 mobile vehicles, teams, and veterinarians in Pakistan, Egypt, and India.

Throughout all of our countries we focus on community engagement and prevention, building the capacities of owners and local service providers through training and exploring advocacy opportunities.


Volunteering to fundraise for Brooke USA is another great way to make a contribution that will help the animals in our programs.

Volunteering to fundraise for Brooke USA is another great way to make a contribution that will help the animals in our programs.

12. How can someone support the Brooke?

There are many ways that you can help working equines through Brooke USA. The most impactful and cost-effective way is to donate on-line, either through a one-time gift or committed giving by direct debit.  Alternatively, you can make donations (made payable to Brooke USA) by check or credit card. Our address is Brooke USA, 4089 Iron Works Pkwy, Lexington, KY  40511, or call us at 859-296-0037.

However, financial contributions are not the only way you can help our work.  You might also consider:

  • Volunteering in our Lexington, Kentucky office or at special events hosted by Brooke USA

  • Leaving a gift in your will

  • Participating in a sponsored challenge such as run/swim/skydive

  • Hosting an event such as a lunch, dinner, cocktail party or other fundraising event

  • Joining or setting up a support group among your friends to raise funds

  • Buying seasonal virtual gifts from the Brooke Shop


A Brooke veterinarian examines a donkey who lives and works in a slum in Pakistan.

A Brooke veterinarian examines a donkey who lives and works in a slum in Pakistan.

13. Can supporters/the public visit or volunteer at the Brooke’s offices/clinics overseas?

As a general operational policy, we do not accept volunteers, veterinarians, or veterinary students in our overseas operations, or visits by donors.  

We have learned that we are far more effective when using only veterinarians and staff members who are actually from the countries where we work.  These staff members already know the culture, the language, and the people. 

Long-term, sustainable change happens over the course of many months and years, by building relationships in the communities where we work. 

A Brooke veterinarian in India with a donkey and owner.

A Brooke veterinarian in India with a donkey and owner.

We also have liability and security considerations and the potential danger posed by cultural differences when bringing in volunteers from other countries.  However, we welcome skilled volunteers in our US office at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

Generally it is very difficult to show anyone, including supporters, our work.

Our staff members in-country are very busy, often travelling around to implement activities, and we don’t want to interrupt their operations. In very rare circumstances when a donor is independently visiting a country we operate in and would like to see our work, Brooke UK can sometimes facilitate a visit depending on the country operations at that time.


This family in India is fortunate to have a horse to help them earn a living, but they pull his shoes too often to sell them (the shoes from a black horse are considered "lucky" in this part of India). Consequently his feet were in bad shape until the Brooke began working with them.

This family in India is fortunate to have a horse to help them earn a living, but they pull his shoes too often to sell them (the shoes from a black horse are considered "lucky" in this part of India). Consequently his feet were in bad shape until the Brooke began working with them.

14. What makes the Brooke different from any other animal/equine welfare charity?

The Brooke is the only charity that specifically concentrates on assisting working equines (horses, donkeys and mules).

We are also proud of the fact that the Brooke has a heavy focus on an evidence-based approach to our work.  Read more about our scientific research.

However, there are of course overlaps with the subject matter and goals of other charities, and so the Brooke regularly collaborates with other charities and NGOs on scoping new areas and looking at new areas of research.

Literally millions of the world’s poorest people also benefit from our work, as on average at least six family members are supported by each working equine that we reach.

The Brooke also offers Small Initiatives Grants to other like-minded animal welfare charities which are working in countries where the Brooke does not have a presence.  This expands our reach to more animals while simultaneously assisting smaller charities with their important work.


Emergency feed distribution organized by the Brooke in Senegal to help animals who were suffering from a drought.

Emergency feed distribution organized by the Brooke in Senegal to help animals who were suffering from a drought.

15. Does the Brooke accept in-kind donations of medicine, feed supplements, tack, and other goods?

We are very seldom able to utilize in-kind donations, as it is not cost-effective to send goods from the U.S. into the countries where we work.  Instead, we prefer to support local economies by purchasing needed items in-country whenever possible.  Our donations stretch farther that way.

We also teach poor people the skills that they need to make many of their own items such as horse blankets, saddle pads, hoof picks, and how to construct, fit, and repair harnesses and tack.  We know that most owners cannot afford to purchase these items and we want to help them to take responsibility for their animals and to become self-reliant (and not depend on hand-outs from other countries) to whatever extent is possible. 

The Brooke's Dr. Shewanesh is demonstrating how handmade padding works to protect animals who fetch water and carry heavy goods in Ethiopia.

The Brooke's Dr. Shewanesh is demonstrating how handmade padding works to protect animals who fetch water and carry heavy goods in Ethiopia.

By training local service providers such as farriers, harness makers, healthcare workers, and feed dealers, not only are we helping the animals in the communities where these people live, but we’re also helping the service providers to increase their income by offering better quality services.  

In the case of veterinary supplies and equipment, not only is it cost-prohibitive to ship, but it can also be very difficult to get them through Customs, so we always try to purchase in-country. In cases where our programs need veterinary drugs which cannot be obtained locally, we go through a professional supplier.


Men and their loaded horses on the way to market in Guatemala.

Men and their loaded horses on the way to market in Guatemala.

Why is it so important to help the animals (and what about the people)?

In poor communities, horses and donkeys help their owners or users to earn a livelihood by transporting produce, water, people, and building materials. Extra money earned by equines are also used to pay school fees so children can receive an education. But extreme poverty and lack of education often result in owners misusing their animals, so the animals are unable to work, or they work while suffering. This means that some of the poorest families go without an income.

Read more about the link between animal and human welfare, as recognized by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in a report called, “The Role, Impact, and Welfare of Working (Traction and Transport) Animals.”

See our “Invisible Helpers” report on the impact of working equines on the lives of women in the developing world.


 17. Do you take animals into a sanctuary?

No. The animals we help are owned by some of the poorest people in the world: men, women, and children who rely on a working horse, donkey, or mule for their livelihoods and in many cases their very survival. It would not help these people to take their animals away. 

Working animals can have a happy and healthy life, as long as they have good care and are treated with respect.  That’s why we provide veterinary treatment and training for animal owners. We focus on preventing problems, ensuring that we achieve a lasting effect for the welfare of working animals, rather than just a short-term fix.  The cost of keeping horses and donkeys in sanctuaries is very high, and we believe this money is better spent helping more animals in their own communities.


This donkey in Senegal lives and works in a garbage dump and recycling center.

This donkey in Senegal lives and works in a garbage dump and recycling center.

18. Do you ever euthanize animals?

Yes, sometimes we know that this is the only option left and is the most considerate and humane thing to do for the animal. Every day we help hundreds of animals who are suffering from wounds, infections, and illnesses.  Sometimes their condition is beyond the stage where they can be successfully treated so we work with the owners to help them decide on their animals’ fate.  Animals are only put down when the Brooke is sure it is the right choice and suffering would devastate their quality of life. All our efforts go into improving animal care and treatment to prevent this.


The Donkey Care Club for school children in Kenya is facilitated by the Brooke. It teaches children how to respect and care for the animals their families depend on.  Here they are observing donkey behaviour as part of their studies.

The Donkey Care Club for school children in Kenya is facilitated by the Brooke. It teaches children how to respect and care for the animals their families depend on.  Here they are observing donkey behaviour as part of their studies.

19. Why should I donate to Brooke USA?

 With your donation, we can continue – and expand - our work in the poorest countries of the world, providing vet care to struggling, suffering animals. But perhaps most importantly, we can help whole communities to keep their animals healthy so they can earn enough money to feed their families. 

With your donations, our practical, sustainable welfare training for owners will result in happier lives for the animals and a more dependable livelihoods for families for generations to come.


20. How can I find out more about leaving a legacy to the Brooke?

First, we thank you for thinking of Brooke USA as the beneficiary of your ultimate gift.

You can read more about Legacy Gifts on our website, or by contacting our executive director, Emily Dulin, at Emily.Dulin@BrookeUSA.org for details.


Overloaded and struggling donkey carrying goods to Hosanna grain market in Ethiopia

Overloaded and struggling donkey carrying goods to Hosanna grain market in Ethiopia

21. Do you help animals in the United States?

The Brooke cares about the welfare of all animals, but our mission is to measurably improve the lives of the greatest number of working equines who are suffering the most.  More specifically, our ambition is to reach the 5 million working equines who are enduring the most extreme suffering.

This means that our work is done in developing countries where millions of working equines are still used on a daily basis. In fact, 95% of all donkeys and 60% of all horses are found in developing countries -- not in the U.S. In these countries, where there are usually no laws to protect animals, no animal shelters, and few - if any – other charities to help them, we are often the only source of veterinary assistance and welfare training.

We also work with other charities to share methodologies and networks, which improves the welfare of animals world-wide.  

By focusing our resources and expertise where the largest numbers of working equines are in the greatest need, which is in the developing world, we make the biggest impact.