Brooke CharityAround the world, over 100 million working horses, donkeys and mules, provide invaluable support to nearly eight percent of the world’s population. Through transportation, haulage and production, healthy working horses, donkeys and mules help put food on the table, send children to school and build better futures for their families. The Brooke charity has made it their mission to look out for these unsung heroes of poverty-ridden communities. Here are five things to know about the Brooke charity:

What is Brooke?

According to their website, “Brooke is an international animal welfare charity dedicated to improving the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules.” With operations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, they reach over two million working horses, donkeys and mules across the globe. Their staff of over 900 people consists of vets, animal welfare experts and development specialists.

What do they do?

Brooke protects and improves the lives of equines that bolster the livelihoods of some of the world’s poorest communities. Animals cannot better their own welfare but people can. Brooke works with communities to provide the skills and support necessary to unlock their compassion for animals and reap the benefit it brings to their livelihoods. The charity partners with local health services and farriers to strengthen the skills of owners so they can get their animals the help they need timely and effectively. Brooke provides support for long-lasting change by working with international bodies such as the U.N. and governments at all levels.

How has Brooke evolved?

In 1930, when Dorothy Brooke arrived in Egypt, she was appalled at the state of the ex-warhorses being sold into a life of hard labor at the conclusion of World War I. Within three years, Dorothy Brooke had purchased 5,000 ex-warhorses. Most were old, exhausted and had to be humanely put down though, thanks to her, they ended their lives peacefully.

Brooke knew many hard-working horses, donkeys and mules still suffered. In 1934, she founded the Old War Horse Memorial Hospital in Cairo to provide free veterinary care for all the city’s working equines. Thus, the Brooke Hospital for Animals was born.

Fast forward 85 years to the present time, when Brooke leads the way in providing help to working equines and their owners in the developing world. They met their goal to reach two million working horses, donkeys and mules in 2016 in 11 countries, and continue to strive for greater impact around the world.

Why does their work matter?

Working equines transport people, move goods and deliver food and water. In some countries, up to six people rely on a single animal for survival. This means that in many of the world’s poorest regions, human welfare is inextricably linked to the welfare of working horses, donkeys, and mules. A healthier animal enables its owner to increase their income and improve living conditions. Given that approximately 80 percent of animal suffering is preventable, Brooke is doing all they can to ensure well-fed and looked after working animals can continue to keep millions of people out of extreme poverty.

What are the potential weaknesses of this organization?

While traditional working equine welfare programs have had some success in improving welfare and alleviating poverty, they have significant drawbacks. Providing vet or farrier care is expensive, can lead to a culture of dependency and often fails to reach all members of a community. Outreach education work can increase awareness but does not always create the behavioral changes needed for stable incomes and sustainable animal welfare.

Developing communities that depend on equines can largely benefit from the improved standards of living delivered by simple, effective programs that promote animal welfare at the community level. With a new or better understanding of the needs of their horses, donkeys or mules, people are empowered to change their behaviors and sustainably increase their income. This contributes to any developing community’s ultimate goal: a movement out of poverty.

– GiGi Hogan
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Stray dogsActivism towards global poverty tends to focus on the different aspects of human welfare rather than animal welfare. Yet, many animal rights activists have raised concerns about how developing countries deal with feral dogs living close to human populations. As these animals can both attack and spread diseases to humans, governments must figure out methods to control stray dogs and their population growth in order to protect their citizens. Many of these methods promote cruelty towards dogs and/or have no effect upon them and their population.

Adoption as a Method to Control Stray Dogs

In the United States, shelters control stray dogs by capturing them and allowing families to adopt them into loving homes. It may seem as though this method can transfer to other countries (and many have tried) but cultural differences prevent its effectiveness. The concept of dog ownership differs from country to country. Though some changes have recently occurred, the adoption of street dogs does not often factor into the norm.

While citizens of the United States can adopt dogs from overseas, the process has many dangers. With the failure of quarantine and vaccination procedures, dogs can spread dangerous diseases from overseas. Also, bringing in foreign dogs can deny native dogs the chance for a loving home.


Too many countries promote and carry out the mass-culling of dogs in an attempt to curb the stray dog population. Readers might recall the 2014 scandal in which the city of Sochi poisoned hundreds of dogs in preparation of the Winter Olympics. In places such as India, citizens kill stray dogs every day through cruel methods such as electrocution.

Killing dogs might seem as justifiable as killing any wild animal in self-defense and the defense of others, and perhaps the introduction of more humane methods of euthanasia might solve the ethical conundrum of human welfare versus dog welfare. Yet, even humane euthanasia has very little effect upon the stray population. India has attempted to control stray dogs through culling programs for decades and still has the highest stray dog population of any country.

Furthermore, the ethics of euthanasia tend to recommend using euthanasia as a last resort. While euthanasia can remove a dog from a desperate situation, humans should attempt to intervene in health, environmental and behavioral issues first. Only in the failure of these inventions can the act of euthanasia become justified.

Capture, Neuter, Vaccination and Release

Vaccination and Capture, Neuter and Release programs (some programs combine the two) seem the most effective when dealing with the most common issues of stray dogs. Vaccinating stray dogs against diseases should cause them to not spread diseases to humans. Neutering dogs should cause a decrease in the dog population. The data of such programs backs up these claims.

A 1983 rabies vaccination program led by the World Health Organization (WHO) caused rabies rates to drop 93 percent between 1982 and 2003 in Latin America. Other programs in Tanzania reduced the rabies rate by 93 percent.

As for neutering programs, Jaipur, India decreased the dog density of the state by a third in 1994 and 1995. A program in the island nation of Abaco saw the number of dogs seen in the street reduced by 50-75 percent. The stray dogs in these programs also showed an improvement of health and welfare, having “improved coat luster and quality, improved skin conditions, and fewer parasites and venereal tumors.”

Yet despite the proven success of these programs, they still have limitations for wide-spread reach. Often in developing countries, veterinarians do not have the training or experience in small animal medicine and surgery. Citizens also can have misgivings with wanting to spay their pets or cannot reach the program locations. On top of that, organizations can have difficulty accessing the necessary resources and funds.

Though no method to control stray dogs works perfectly, some do work better both in the ethical and practical sense. In the future, perhaps innovation will make the practical methods more accessible to the places that need them. For now, the efforts made have great success.

– Elizabeth Frerking

Photo: Flickr