Working towards global standards for working animal welfare 

In order to improve the welfare of working horses, donkeys and mules we need to ensure that standards for care exist for these animals and legislation that protects them is in place. 

To do this we need to raise the profile of working equine animals in the minds of governments and other institutions. Currently they are not on most organisation’s radar.

The World Organisation for Animal health (known by its acronym OIE for Office Internationale des Epizooties) has been looking at developing standards for other animal groups such as farm animals and appear interested in developing the same for working animals. 

The Brooke is therefore working hard to gather as much scientific and expert evidence on the importance of working animals and the necessity for them to have good welfare which will help inform the OIE. We are currently working with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations to gather this evidence.

The process so far has been:

  • Brooke’s Colloquium on working equids held in Delhi in December when 157 participants from 32 countries spent 4 days discussing the challenges, progress and current research on working animals.  Read more
  • An electronic consultation (FAO and the Brooke) held in February 2011.   156 people from 52 countries registered for the e-consultation. More than 40 participants contributed to the online discussion and 79 documents on working animals were shared. 
    Read more
  • Further consultation was held in March during a workshop on working animals at the Pan Commonwealth Veterinary Conference held in Ghana.  (Official proceedings of the conference due shortly)
  • An FAO Expert meeting was held in Rome in June 2011. This brought together 12 independent experts along with some 10 other people as resource people representing interested organisations. The report that this generates is planned to be passed to the OIE which we hope will encourage them to work on the working animal standards.

“The meeting in Rome went very well and was very motivating,” says Dorcas Pratt, the Brooke’s director of international development. "Of course there is still a lot to do, but what has been achieved in recent months and also at this meeting often takes years – so it’s very encouraging! 

The process of developing welfare standards by the OIE takes approximately 2 years since (as with the WHO) all 178 member countries have to agree on the standards and ratify them. 

The Brooke will therefore continue to lobby with the help of the FAO. A proposed Brooke livelihood meeting in London in September will also generate further information to pass on.



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