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Major animal welfare project gives new lease of life to Afghans

A major new animal welfare project launched by two British charities is transforming the lives of hundreds of Afghan families and the working horses and donkeys they depend on for survival.

Launched just two months ago, the jointly funded project by the Brooke Hospital for Animals and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), provides free veterinary care for working equines in the southern Afghan city of Jalalabad, a training programme for the city's farriers as well as education for owners on basic equine care.

A boy washing his horse using water from the newly constructed water trough and pump well.

In addition, the project has just completed installing freshly pumped drinking water and troughs, the first in Jalalabad for working animals. Until now the nearest water supply was over three miles away and horses frequently died from heat stress as temperatures rose to over 40*C. The new watering facilities, at three carriage stands across the city, are proving to be lifesavers for people too: they are being used by the community, which itself has few fresh water facilities in Jalalabad.

The project employs specially trained vets from the local Afghan agency, Committee for Rehabilitation Aid to Afghanistan, to provide treatment for sick and injured working animals at five of the busiest horse and donkey carriage stands. Many of the animals treated so far have been substantially underweight, some in very poor condition. The reasons are badly overgrown teeth and heavy worm infestations and these problems are now the major priority for the veterinary work. Horses are also suffering from overgrown feet, which can cause severe lameness.

Farrier training in action

In Jalalabad, thousands of people work with horses and donkeys and, in the vast majority of cases, entire families depend on these animals for their livelihood. Both charities have had past experience of working with Afghan people but this is the first time both charities have been able to work directly with returning refugees inside
Afghanistan to help rebuild their shattered lives.

Brooke's Veterinary Advisor, Joy Pritchard, describes the early impact of the project: "My recent visit to Afghanistan was inspiring. The team of vets have achieved so much in such a short time. The horses and donkeys are receiving the care and treatment they need and their owners are seeing the benefits. Animals are already being brought from far-flung villages to be treated by our vets.

Alistair Findlay, WSPA Project Officer, added: "The farriers are using their new farriery kits with pride and we see the youngest boys with donkeys show off their new hoof-picking and grooming skills. The new pumps and water troughs will be a life-saver during the hot summer months and give water to the whole community, not just their horses. I'm delighted that the project has got off to such a good start"



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Updated: October 2005.