Every day large numbers of donkeys, mules, and horses make the long trek to our hospital. Sometimes their owners have walked for hours to get to us, other times they have scraped together enough money to rent a truck and they have brought their precious beast of burden hundreds of miles in the hope we can help them. Animals can be in this hospital for days or weeks before being fit enough to go back and help their owners plough their fields or transport their goods. The donkey shown with me here hobbled miles with his poor old owner and was diagnosed with a very bad leg fracture. We took the x-rays shown here and carefully explained to the owner what these images meant. The old man delivers water to the pottery kilns in Fes Medina every day and his donkey was his faithful partner in this work. The loss of his donkey, for days or even weeks, means loss of his livelihood but the American Fondouk was there to help both him and his donkey. We gave him a grant to buy a new donkey while his old donkey convalesced.
We understand the critical link between an animal’s welfare and that of his owner. Over 90% of the worlds 110 million donkeys, mules, and horses are working animals like the animal in the photo. This means nearly 100 million equids live a life of incredible toil, carrying huge burdens, sometimes more than their own bodyweight, under the searing sun. Only a tiny percentage of these have access to veterinary care, or have a place where at least for a few weeks they will be well cared for, loved, and fed. That place is the American Fondouk in Fes. We work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every week of the year, to provide the specialist veterinary care these animals need to help them back on their feet and back to their poverty-stricken owners.
The team at the Fondouk is made up of 10 Moroccan Veterinary surgeons and me. The veterinarians receive one year’s training in equine medicine and surgery at specialist equine veterinary centers in the UK and the US. All this training is sponsored by the Fondouk in the knowledge that when these young vets come back to their own country, they will be able to continue to provide excellence in care for thousands of animals over the years.
I learned about the suffering of these donkeys, mules, and horses when I was very young. I was brought up in the Middle East and was given my first donkey when I was just 7 years old. I studied veterinary medicine at Edinburgh University and have been working with these donkeys, mules, and horses in Morocco, Egypt, Mali, and Qatar for the last twenty years. Helping these poor animals and their equally poor owners improve their lives has been my motivation and my goal for my entire professional career. We couldn’t do any of this without our supporters. Please help us to help them.