New Initiative - Working Animal Welfare Project
The SPCA is excited to announce one of our latest initiatives to help even more animals in some of our most rural communities. In late 2021, the SPCA Namibia became an official partner of SPANA (the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad), a global charitable organization founded in the UK. SPANA improves the welfare of working animals by providing free veterinary treatment, training local animal owners and teaching children about animal welfare in some of the world’s low-income communities.
Through SPANA’s support, the SPCA has already started this vital work in these three targeted ways – treating, training, and teaching. In October 2021, the SPCA welcomed our latest team member, Veterinarian and Project Coordinator, Dr. Jaco Brink, and the first Working Animal Welfare field trip took place that very same month. Over the last few months, the SPCA has provided treatment and assisted nearly 200 working animals, mostly donkeys, mules, and horses, whose job is to provide transport and conveyance of goods for their humans.
The SPCA has identified three different routes, all starting from Windhoek, that will reach as far as Kamanjab, Tsumkwe and Maltahöhe, with several towns in between. Initially, we expected to reach about 500 working animals per year, but at the current rate, it appears the number will far exceed 500.
Current welfare issues
The SPCA has observed and identified a few key issues in terms of the well-being of the animals; wounds from broken or make-shift harnesses, ill-fitted carts, bits made from wires which injure the mouths of the animals, hobbles made from material which injures the animals, intestinal and external parasites, and wounds and injuries requiring veterinary treatment. Welfare concerns can often be attributed to lack of resources or knowledge of best practices. There is no veterinarian in many of the towns on the current routes, but even if a veterinarian is available, many owners are unable to utilize their services due to financial constraints.
Key methods to improve working animal welfare
The project sets out to improve the welfare and lives of working animals through three key areas:
Providing veterinary care and treatment to prevent and alleviate suffering.
Administering vaccines, de-parasitical treatments, wound cleaning, and basic information on how to keep working animals as healthy and comfortable as possible.
Conducting both one-on-one training and workshops for working animal owners and caretakers. The SPCA will further work with identified Community Champions who will receive skills training, and further support, to ensure the project’s sustainability.
Reaching children through holistic humane educational outreach focusing not only on working animal welfare, but also on the welfare of pets, farm animals and wildlife. The SPCA and SPANA recognize that the youth of today are the animal guardians of the future.
The SPCA is pleased to have received a warm welcome in many of the towns we visited, and we have been happy to be able to provide much needed services free of charge for working animals in need, thus improving their lives, and assisting their owners and caretakers, too.
SPANA background (the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad):
SPANA has been the charity for the working animals of the world since 1923, transforming the lives of horses, donkeys, mules, elephants and camels in some of the world’s low-income communities. The charity improves the welfare of working animals by providing free veterinary treatment, training local animal owners and teaching children about animal welfare. Please see the charity’s website, www.spana.org for more information.