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International Working Animal Day Highlights The Daily Reality Of Hard Journeys For Animals Overseas

2 years ago

15th June, 2018 13h32


• SPANA's third annual awareness day aims to give working animals the recognition and vital help they need  

• Broadcaster Ben Fogle pledges his support for these ‘animal heroes’

Animal welfare charity SPANA is today (15 June) highlighting the gruelling journeys that working animals must undertake every day in developing countries throughout the world, to mark the third annual International Working Animal Day.

Around the world, more than 200 million working horses, donkeys, camels and other animals do the jobs of trucks, tractors and taxis. By transporting goods and people, they make it possible for impoverished families to earn a living. However, this often means carrying heavy loads over long distances in extreme temperatures and tough conditions.

In Zimbabwe, for instance, donkeys travel an average distance of 20 miles on a daily basis to collect water. In Mauritania, more than 70,000 donkeys deliver water to the residents of the capital, Nouakchott, day after day. In temperatures often exceeding 40 degrees, they pull carts with containers of water weighing 400kg.

Despite their importance, working animals often lead short, painful lives, enduring appalling working conditions, with inadequate nutrition and no access to essential veterinary treatment. 

Their plight is also largely unknown in the UK. New research shows that 40 per cent of people don’t know what a working animal is.

SPANA is working to improve the lives of working animals throughout the world. The charity provides free veterinary care to sick and injured animals, as well as working with communities to improve animal welfare through education and training. However, the sheer number of working animals globally means that there are still millions that currently have no form of veterinary treatment available to them.

Ben Fogle, who is supporting the campaign, said: ‘For over half a billion people worldwide, a working animal is a vital necessity. Working animals represent their transport, their means of collecting firewood and water, and their only way of making a small income to provide for their families. That’s why I support SPANA’s work offering free veterinary treatment to working animals in need, and why on International Working Animal Day I’m asking that these animal heroes get the recognition they deserve.

‘I’ve recently returned from the Himalayas, where pack mules undertake incredible journeys every day and provide a lifeline for local communities. In mountainous and isolated regions, where cars and trucks cannot venture, survival is only possible thanks to the tireless steps of working animals.’

Geoffrey Dennis, Chief Executive of SPANA, said: ‘In Britain, we’re lucky that we can usually choose how much, or how little, we walk. If the weather is bad or we’re feeling tired, most people can jump in the car or on the bus to get where they need to be.

‘But it’s a very different story for many working animals overseas. These horses, donkeys and camels have to walk many miles every day, transporting backbreaking loads in difficult terrain and sweltering heat. During these tough journeys, animals often have little shelter, water or rest, while lameness and painful wounds are common.

‘Despite their vital role and the often arduous journeys they make, the sad fact is that very few working animals have access to veterinary treatment when they are sick or injured. That’s where SPANA comes in – preventing suffering by providing vital vet care, as well as educating communities in how to better look after their animals.’ 

Please show your support for these hardworking animals on International Working Animal Day and visit

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