One of India's many brick kilns

The Brooke is an international animal welfare organisation dedicated to improving the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules in some of the world’s poorest communities.


We work with equine owning communities, local non-governmental organizations andinternational institutions to make sustainable improvements to the welfare ofworking horses, donkeys and mules owned by poor communities. To help achieve this objective, we have 30 district equine welfare units working across 8 states in India reaching out to 200,000 working horses, donkeys and mules. Our dedicated field teams help working equines in most challenging conditions at brick kilns, in villages, tonga stands in urban areas and high altitude pilgrimage sites. In addition we also reach out to a large number of suffering equines within and outside our operational areas by participating in equine fairs.


Brooke is a leading animal welfare charity working for the sustainable welfare of the working equids.

“Animal welfare means how an animal is coping with the conditions in which it lives” (OIE definition). When animal is functioning well (Physical), feeling well (Mental) and able to perform natural/species-typical behaviours (Natural ness) is considered animal welfare. Animal welfare is a complex concept with three important aspects – physical, mental and aspects of naturalness.

The Five Freedoms are often used as a framework to assess animal welfare (Farm Animal Welfare Council, UK, 1992)

1. Freedom from hunger and thirst.

2. Freedom from discomfort.

3. Freedom from pain, injury and disease.

4. Freedom to express natural behaviour.

5. Freedom from fear and distress.

Brooke India is engaged in mobilising the communities by increasing their knowledge, skill, practices and providing quality veterinary services to improve the welfare of working equids owned by poorest of the poor people. To measure the impact of our activities on welfare of equines, The Brooke in collaboration with Bristol University has developed animal based tool which is known as Standardised Equine Base Welfare Assessment Tool (SEBWAT).  Using SEBWAT, welfare issues of equine in an operational area are identified which gives a baseline status. We conduct follow up assessment of the welfare issues of the same operational area at an interval of two years to monitor the changes and evaluate the impact. The findings of welfare assessment are used to inform the programme intervention strategy.


Through our veterinary services we relieve immediate pain and suffering of working equine with our emergency treatment,ensure availability of first aid kits at community level and train equine owners on primary care. To improve our diagnostic skills we have equipped our field units with quality lab facilities. Our veterinary services also include a large training component to build up veterinary skills of local animal health professionals such as government vets, paravets and local health providers. In the long term we aim to build the capacity of local service providers and various stakeholders to enable them to continue adoption of equine welfare practices by strengthening community participation.


Poverty, illiteracy and lack of awareness among equine owners renders their animals vulnerable to various fatal equine diseases. Most of the equine welfare problems that Brooke encounters can be prevented if owners, service providers (Farriers, Local Health Providers and Hair Clippers) and local communities have adequate information and can access essential services and resources. We do this by mobilising equine owning families into equine welfare groups where ever possible and build their capacity through a collective process of situation analysis, identification of welfare issues, prioritization of issues, root cause analysis to planning. Regular monitoring using various participatory techniques including Participatory Welfare Need Assessment (PWNA) is followed to develop necessary issue based action plans.  Through continuous mobilisation and motivation of the community we ensure proper implementation of the programme. 


The Problem
Despite their role in generating income for their owners in developing countries working animals are virtually invisible in development policy and programming both internationally and in developing countries.

This neglect is primarily caused by a lack of understanding of the contributions of working donkeys, mules and horses to people’s welfare, particularly their livelihoods. Because they do not produce food or fibre products they are not perceived as having a direct value (e.g. money, nutrition) that can benefit their owners. On the contrary other livestock, such as cows and goats, are given due attention because they produce food outputs.

As a result, working equine animals are perceived as unimportant or considered a luxury in comparison to the urgent needs of their struggling owners. Because of this misconception, working equids tend to be ranked much less highly than food and fibre production animals, and are therefore often excluded from national and international livestock and livelihoods policy and programming.

This means that their needs do not feature in livestock related intervention and policy. For example, equine drugs are not available, health professionals are not trained on equine health or they are excluded from livestock vaccination campaigns. This is detrimental to them as well as their owners.

Working together on solutions
By improving the lives of working equine animals, we can enable poor families and communities to protect what is often their greatest asset. This allows them to rely on a regular direct or indirect income, which in turn ensures their access to food, and supports families’ access to healthcare, education or social benefits.

The Brooke works with policy makers and implementers, as well as  other non-governmental organisations to arm them with the evidence, knowledge and technical support they need to  improve the welfare of the working horses, donkeys and mules through legislation and policy, and though interventions related to livelihoods, gender and livestock.

We seek to bridge the gaps between human development and working animal welfare by highlighting the linkages and the mutual benefits of improving human and working equine welfare

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