Horses, donkeys, and mules are at-risk of life-threatening illnesses and crippling injuries at more than 300 equine fairs around India. Traveling to the four-day Thulai-Hathras fair in North India is dangerous, with thousands of horses, donkeys and mules crammed into the truck or making the long journey on foot.

The fair is an important opportunity for poor animal owners and handlers to make money, so they try to get the maximum number of animals into each truck. Getting onto the vehicle via a slippery, uneven ramp frightens the horses, donkeys, and mules so they are forced on – causing injuries and distress.

Once aboard, the animals are crammed together. There is no straw to cushion blows as they are crushed against each other and the sides of the truck. The fearful animals suffer a range of injuries from fractures, wounds, dislocations to torn tendons and bite marks.

After travelling long miles on foot, or crushed into trucks, the weary horses, donkeys, and mules arrive at the fair. It’s blisteringly hot and the land is dusty and barren. Exhausted from their journey, the animals find little shelter from the scorching sun, or clean water to relieve their thirst.

Over two sweltering weeks each August, almost 13,000 working equines are crowded together in this inhospitable place. Cramped conditions, inadequate food, and shade and scarce – often contaminated – water mean the animals face a range of risks to their health and welfare. Unsurprisingly, many are also fearful and distressed. It’s crucial that vets, funded by Brooke USA Foundation (Brooke USA), are on hand to treat everything from kick and bite marks to septic wounds, infectious diseases, dehydration, and malnutrition.

Thanks to Brooke USA, Brooke India helps poor equine owners and their animals. When Om Prakash’s mare Basanti fell ill, he was very worried and took her to his local health provider, but they couldn’t identify the problem. He was therefore very relieved to see veterinarian Dr. Sanjay who was with the Brooke India team at the fair. Dr. Sanjay noticed that the mare was unable to move properly, and that part of her eyelid was covering her eye. He diagnosed tetanus and treated her with antibiotics and a tetanus vaccine, briefing a veterinary assistant to monitor Basanti until she was fully recovered.

Thanks to the Brooke India’s lifesaving treatment, Basanti recovered, and Om was very grateful that the Brooke India team was at the equine fair: “The Brooke is here to help poor equine owners and their animals,” said Om. “Their work in equine fairs is really making a difference,” he added.

Despite the harsh conditions, the fair is an ideal opportunity to reach as many owners, handlers, and drivers as possible with vital messages about improving the welfare of their animals as they travel. From providing bedding and non-slip ramps, to avoiding force and over-crowding, Brooke USA is working to reduce the risks and injuries suffered at these events. In the long run, healthier animals contribute to more prosperous people and communities.

Brooke USA’s believes that animal suffering is preventable, and that good animal welfare protects human livelihoods. For 600 million people in some of the poorest places in the world, 100 million of these animals are the backbone of communities and their best means of making a living. Without healthy working horses, donkeys, and mules, they wouldn’t be able to put food on their tables, send their children to school or build better futures for themselves and their families.

The mission of Brooke USA is to significantly improve the health, welfare and productivity of working horses, donkeys and mules and the people who depend on them for survival worldwide. The nonprofit is committed to sustainable economic development by reducing poverty, increasing food security, ensuring access to water, providing a means to education, and raising basic standards of living through improved equine health and welfare.

Brooke USA strives to alleviate the suffering and vulnerability of developing communities by funding and implementing programs that improve the quality of life and health of working equines and thereby positively impacting their economic sustainability, protecting the planet, ensuring gender equality, and guaranteeing life on land resilience. The goal is to see healthy, happy people and equines that work in partnership to achieve sustainable local economies.

For more information on Brooke USA, please visit www.BrookeUSA.org.

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