Brooke, headquartered in London, England, is widely and highly regarded as an international leader in equine welfare.
Brooke’s scientifically-proven, sustainable equine welfare programs alleviate the suffering of animals while helping to ensure the livelihoods of the families who depend on them in some of the poorest countries on Earth.
Brooke annually reaches working horses, donkeys and mules across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Their staff includes veterinarians and animal welfare experts as well as advocacy and development specialists.
Brooke is led by an international board of trustees, with Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall currently serving her third term as president.
Working equine animals
Working equines are those who are used for domestic and commercial purposes. They are not sport horses or pets. They pull carriages and carts, carry packs and are used to transport goods and people. They support livelihoods in a wide range of sectors including agriculture, construction, tourism, mining, transportation, cultural ceremonies and household chores.
The intrinsic value of working equine animals and the need to end their suffering
Brooke’s research shows how widespread and severe welfare problems are for working equines, which is why it's their mission to relieve this suffering and create lasting, measurable, positive change. This change must start with an understanding by owners of their working animals’ intrinsic value and the ways in which the animals suffer.
Animal welfare refers to the physical and emotional state of an animal. It is impacted by the environment in which it lives and works, human attitudes and practices, and available resources. An animal's welfare will be poor if comfort, health and life-sustaining needs are not met.
To make sustainable changes to the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules Brooke must also measure the impact their work is having.
Everything Brooke does is centered around strengthening communities so they can better care for the working horses, donkeys and mules their livelihoods depend on.
Brooke ensures that local service providers and policy makers know that an animal's welfare matters regardless of the function they serve. They are animal workers, not machines, and as such have limitations and needs to be met.
WORKING WITH OWNERS
Brooke aims to improve the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules - both now and in years to come. Most of the welfare problems they encounter are preventable so they work with equine owners, users and caregivers to make changes that will directly improve animal welfare.
They also work with the wider community to ensure that working equids are regarded as an essential part of the community for the long-term.
Brooke’s work with owners and communities varies depending on the local environment and welfare issues. They encourage and support equine owning communities to make their own appraisal, analysis and plans. Brooke’s work commonly includes:
- forming equine welfare groups and associations
- training and equipping individuals to pass on welfare messages to others in their community
- holding meetings to connect equine owners with local animal service providers
- using Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) tools and methods, such as those found in our Sharing the Load manual, to use local knowledge and opinions
- distributing education and communication materials
- initiating children's animal welfare clubs and activities
- supporting influential people in the community to advocate for animal welfare
- integrating equine welfare into existing community systems and structures
WORKING WITH HEALTH SERVICES
Working horses, donkeys and mules enjoy good welfare when their owners and handlers treat them well and when their basic needs are met.
Basic needs include regular and reliable access to good quality veterinary care, farrier services and essential resources such as food and clean water.
With this in mind, Brooke works to ensure good quality services and resources are available to animals when and where they need it. An animal hospital in a major city is of little use to an animal in a remote rural area when they have a broken leg, especially when the owner can’t get them to the hospital.
WORKING WITH LOCAL NETWORKS
Brooke works with local communities and networks to focus on prevention and improve the quality of services and resources available at local level.
For example, they invest in training local government veterinarians in India and community-based animal health workers in Africa. They do this to ensure a better quality of service is available to working animals in the areas where they live and work.
Brooke teams offer training and support to a variety of local networks. For example, in Afghanistan, local paravets make their living by providing treatment and vaccination to cattle and sheep in remote areas. Brooke designed and delivered an equine training package to develop their skills. Having learned more about wound management and equine animal handling, paravets are now able to improve the lives of more animals.
WORKING WITH GOVERNMENTS
There are hundreds of millions of working animals across the world. Brooke cannot hope to reach them all through direct programs such as veterinary intervention, so of paramount importance is working with governments and international bodies to put in place policies that lead to improved animal welfare.
There is only so much Brooke and its partners can achieve globally, so scaling-up what they know works at the local level is how they amplify their impact. They do this by influencing regional, national and international organizations to develop animal welfare policies which include working donkeys, horses and mules who are so often overlooked.
Brooke is therefore very proud to also be influencing global welfare standards and policies, as well as shaping national legislation that elevates the welfare of working animals.
Brooke East Africa has developed an animal welfare bill template which is now being used by 13 county-level governments to develop animal welfare bills. They are partnering with the national government's Department of Veterinary Services to guide counties in developing these laws.
Elsewhere, Brooke India has successfully lobbied for the inclusion of equine first aid in para-vet training courses in four states of India. Before this, equine medicine was generally excluded from vet training.
Brooke is supporting the World Organization for Animal Health with technical expertise to develop global standards for the welfare of working equids.