Brick kiln donkeys in Pakistan

Vets from Brooke's mobile clinics show brick kiln workers the dangers of overloading, lack of water and infrequent rest.

Four donkeys during a break at a brick kiln in Gujarnwala, Pakistan. Credit/Copyright - Richard Dunwoody MBE

Four donkeys during a break at a brick kiln in Gujarnwala, Pakistan. Credit/Copyright - Richard Dunwoody MBE

Lightening the load for working animals

Brick kiln donkey Mithu carried three tonnes of unbaked bricks each day up a steep bank to the Basti Labar brick kiln in Multan, Pakistan. He would make 20 to 25 trips, each time struggling in sweltering heat with 90kg of bricks. And he would do it virtually non-stop over 10-hour shifts with barely any food, water or rest.

Equine working patterns in Pakistan brick kilns

Infographic showing the average load and distances of working equines

Poverty adds pressure for owners and their animals

This terrible overloading was the result of his owner Mohammad Nazir’s poverty. He was only paid a penny for every 10 bricks transported, so his only thought was feeding and clothing his wife and three children. Soaring inflation meant he could never earn enough so he upped Mithu’s loads to 120kg (about 19 stone).

Mithu tried so very hard to carry the heavy loads but one day his legs gave way. Mohammad pulled the bricks off him and contacted the nearby Brooke mobile veterinary team. The team spent two-and-a-half hours treating Mithu for dehydration, wounds and exhaustion.

I will never again overload him because, as Brooke showed me, it won’t increase my income or Mithu’s health or productivity.

A brighter future

In several one-to-one sessions Brooke vet, Dr Rab Nawaz, shared good animal welfare skills with Mohammad so he could take care of Mithu in the future. The sessions covered the importance of proper feeding, adequate rest and balanced loading. Mohammad was also given some first aid training to enable him to treat wounds.

It took Mithu a month to recover but his owner was a changed man. Mohammad now gives him plenty of water and rest breaks.

“I will never again overload him because as the Brooke showed me, it won’t increase my income or Mithu’s health or productivity,” adds Mohammad.

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