Our animal welfare policy

This Policy exists to ensure that anyone representing Brooke demonstrates good practice in relation to animal welfare, and conducts themselves in a manner commensurate with their role as ambassadors for the organisation and animal welfare advocates.

Equines carrying slate across a river. Credit/Copyright - Richard Dunwoody MBE

Reason for policy:

This Policy aims to:

  • Minimise animal welfare risk and promote positive animal welfare throughout all Brooke activities.
  • Specify expectations and unacceptable behaviour of Brooke representatives in relation to animal welfare.
  • Direct Brooke representatives to relevant support and guidance.

This Policy must be read in conjunction with the Procedures and associated documents which support Brooke representatives with implementation of the Policy in practice. 


Achieving Brooke’s mission of improving the lives of vulnerable working horses, donkeys and mules requires an effective international workforce dedicated to creating a culture of compassion and care for animals. Accordingly, it is important that everyone representing Brooke demonstrates the positive attitude towards animal welfare that Brooke seeks to influence in other stakeholders, and that animal welfare is never compromised as a result of Brooke activities. 

Brooke recognises animals as sentient beings whose welfare encompasses physical, mental and natural components that are influenced by their living and working environment, human behaviour, resources and service provision.  Brooke acknowledges that animals have capacity to suffer on account of negative physical and emotional states, and to benefit from and enjoy positive experiences.  Achieving a satisfactory quality of life requires a balance towards the latter throughout the animal’s lifetime, which Brooke aims to achieve.

    Policy Statements:

    1. Brooke representatives involved in design, review, approval, delivery or monitoring of project activities are required to:

      a) Ensure animal welfare needs have been, or will be, identified and prioritised at an early stage in the project using credible evidence.

      b) Clearly articulate the specific nature of proposed animal welfare-related activities and how these are expected to impact on identified animal welfare needs. 

      c) Proactively identify staff competence and training needs in relation to animal welfare and, when required, incorporate capacity-building activities into project plans in a timely manner.

      d) Adhere to animal welfare risk management procedures for all proposed project activities, and not proceed with project approval or implementation until these have been completed. 

      e) Ensure active monitoring (through regular welfare appraisal and/or use of animal-based welfare measures) for positive and negative animal welfare impacts and utilise evidence from monitoring to inform project activities.  Adapt project activities in accordance with emergent or changing animal welfare needs and not continue with activities identified as compromising or failing to improve animal welfare. 

      f) Never conceal or distort the true animal welfare status, present false circumstances or embellish results or outcomes of project activities. 

    2. Brooke representatives observing animals in any context in the course of their work are required to:

      a) Acknowledge and respond to incidents of actual or suspected animal suffering as a result of cruelty, neglect or ignorance. 

      b) Make all reasonable efforts to intervene without delay to prevent, cease or reduce animal suffering, or encourage others to do so if unable to act personally (e.g. due to language barriers, lack of sufficient technical knowledge, uncertainty of cultural appropriateness).

    This applies but is not limited to: observing animals during community engagement activities, mentoring, educational visits, veterinary activities, scoping, delivering or receiving training, chaperoning visitors/donors, collecting information or images, conducting research, field visits for any purpose. 

    3. Brooke representatives conducting community engagement, development and education activities are required to:

      a) Receive training on current animal welfare concepts and pertinent working equine needs prior to working with community members.  Training should be carried out as soon as possible after assuming role, within three months.

      b) Seek to address any issues of animal welfare significance that community members have not identified themselves and identify sustainable solutions in conjunction with community members.

      c) Prioritise animal welfare in community-focussed activities and never conduct any activity that is not in the best interests of the animals, regardless of the potential development or livelihoods benefits. 

      d) Trial and sufficiently evaluate community-focussed activities for intended and unintended animal welfare consequences before scaling up, expanding or replicating. 

      e) Ensure animal welfare messages and guidance are technically correct and relevant prior to dissemination to community members. 

      f) Integrate animal welfare messages and guidance into all community-focussed activities and communications on other topics.

    4. Brooke representatives involved in i) collecting information, images, case studies or other content involving animals in the field for any purpose; or ii) creating information, education or communication materials related to animal welfare messaging for any purpose are required to:

      a) Ensure animal welfare is never compromised in the process of collecting content.  This includes, but is not restricted to: loading or delaying a loaded animal, requesting additional work, delaying examination or treatment, interfering with programmatic activities assisting animals in need, staging scenarios which compromise welfare.

      b) Ensure animal welfare messages and images are technically correct, factually accurate and relevant prior to dissemination to external audiences. 

      c) Ensure that any materials for dissemination to external audiences are not subjected to air-brushing, photo-shopping or other forms of image alternation to falsely amend the perception of an animal’s welfare state (or owner or environmental condition), either positively or negatively.

    This applies but is not limited to: materials collected for print or digital communications, marketing, publicity, fund-raising, monitoring, reporting, evaluation, education, training, learning or advocacy.

    5. Brooke representatives involved in handling, training and direct interaction with animals for any purpose are required to:

      a) Receive training relevant to the anticipated animal interactions and be competent to conduct these humanely, safely and independently prior to working or training with animals unaccompanied. 

      b) Be attentive and non-threatening to animals at all times and ensure unnecessary suffering is avoided, including minimising pain, discomfort and fear.  Promote positive welfare through maximising the animal’s comfort as far as reasonably practicable and using positive physical and vocal interactions.

      c) Ensure that any other people supporting with animal handling conform to point ‘b’ above, and intervene to offer corrective guidance if contrary interactions are observed. 

    This applies but is not limited to: handling for hoof trimming and farriery, collecting data, examination or treatment, community engagement with animals, training animals, training humans with animals, assessing welfare, leading or manoeuvring, grooming or clipping, moving or loading, fitting or assessing harness, assisting with handling for any of the above.

    6. Brooke representatives involved in research including animals are required to:

      a) Follow current guidelines determined by the International Research Group, including submitting research proposals to Brooke’s Animal Welfare Ethical Review Body, and not deviate from agreed research methodology without prior discussion.

      b) Never conduct invasive procedures that are not required for diagnosis or treatment, which have not been approved as part of research methodology by the International Research Group and Animal Welfare Ethical Review Body.  This includes any research conducted in collaboration with other individuals or institutions.

      c) Never prolong or increase work for animals.

      d) Prioritise and address any animal welfare concerns emergent at any time during the research and never continue with a research activity that unexpectedly compromises animal welfare.

    7. Brooke representatives involved in delivering or supervising veterinary treatment are required to:

      a) Hold recognised qualifications in animal health or veterinary medicine and legal authorisation to administer the treatment or medications in the given location.

      b) Adhere to the guidance outlined in the Brooke Veterinary Response Guidelines and Formulary.

      c) Have attained competence according to the Animal Health Mentoring Framework prior to delivering or supervising veterinary treatment.

      d) Ensure analgesia is utilised as the first priority with all animals at risk of pain.

      e) Ensure all anti-microbial medications are utilised responsibly to minimise development of resistance.

      f) Not conduct any surgery when adequate analgesia and anaesthesia, high levels of sterility, recognised surgical skills and sufficient post-operative care cannot be ensured, i.e. surgery that enters a body cavity, or ocular surgery in a field setting. 

    8. Brooke representatives involved in delivering or supervising euthanasia are required to:

      a) Hold recognised qualifications in veterinary medicine and legal authorisation to practise euthanasia in the given location.

      b) Adhere to the criteria and protocol for euthanasia outlined in the Brooke Veterinary Response Guidelines. 

      c) Only conduct euthanasia when it is clearly in the animal’s best interests.  The animal must be diagnosed with intractable pain or unfit to ever return to work, and all alternative treatment options must have been eliminated.

      d) Avoid animals being transported or relocated live before euthanasia.

    9. Brooke representatives who are notified of an animal in need are required to:

      a) If the animal in need is in an existing operational area, either:

      b) Follow the Brooke Veterinary Response Guidelines if suitably qualified to assist; or

      c) Provide details of the animal in need to an animal health professional in the area who is suitably qualified to assist.

      d) If the animal in need is in a non-operational area, make all reasonable efforts to provide contact details of alternative animal welfare organisations likely to be able to assist.

    This applies to any Brooke representative receiving notification of animals in need from a supporter, member of the public, community member, government official or anyone else in person, in writing, via social media or any other means.