WHY DO HORSES, DONKEYS,
AND MULES MATTER?
Because 100 million working equines support 600 million of the world's poorest people. For many animals and their owners in the developing world, life is a daily struggle to survive in the face of unimaginable hardships.
In poor countries, motorized vehicles are not an option for the majority of the population, so it is not unusual for an entire extended family to depend on the income from a single, little donkey for all their needs. But even beyond the needs of the one family, entire communities, even entire nations, rely on the work of these patient animals.
Owners who are already struggling to feed their families often have little understanding of their animals’ needs or of their suffering.
The Brooke works in communities where many people and their animals earn less than a dollar a day.
That creates a kind of desperation that is unheard-of and inconceivable in prosperous nations.That same desperation and the constraints created by poverty and lack of knowledge can cause owners to unintentionally harm their loyal equine work partners – the very animals whose lives are inextricably tied to their own. Owners have little choice but to continue working their animals, despite their afflictions, until the animals literally drop in their harnesses.
Consequently millions of equines are enduring terrible suffering. But there is hope!
Their suffering is due to chronic exhaustion, crippling lameness, heat stress, wounds from poorly fitting harnesses, malnutrition, disease, beating, and dehydration – nearly all of which are preventable when owners are trained to provide proper care.
An animal who is dying or simply too severely injured or sick to work can cause a family to lose its only income, and in the developing world there are no social programs to act as safety nets. The death of a working animal can send a family that is already vulnerable into an irreversible crisis.
A recent research report by the Brooke found that the contribution of working horses, donkeys, and mules to the livelihoods of some of the world’s poorest people is overlooked, leaving working equines invisible in livestock policy, and suffering as a result.
Livestock policy and international development programs exist to make sure that owners can properly care for the animals that contribute to their livelihoods. However, currently the animals included in these policies and programs are limited to the ones that directly produce food or fabrics, like cows, chickens, and goats. Despite the massive contribution working equines make, they’re not considered “critical” livestock. The Brooke wants this to change.