Global equine welfare charity the Brooke has worked with the government to change by-laws in Halaba, Ethiopia, which will allow its teams to euthanise abandoned working equines when extreme injuries or disease mean they are beyond medical help.
The decision will result in many working horses, donkeys and mules being relieved from prolonged suffering.
Abandonment of working horses in urban areas of Ethiopia is a problem, especially in Halaba.
When horses are too sick or weak to work, they are sometimes left on the streets to suffer slowly before they die, or are attacked and eaten by hyenas. These animals are often found in a state where their condition is irreversible, and so the only humane solution is euthanasia.
The Brooke will always strive to rehabilitate an animal before taking such drastic action, but these difficult decisions occasionally have to be made when it’s in the interest of the animal.
In Halaba, an owner has to give consent before an animal is euthanised, but when they have been abandoned, tracking down the owner can be difficult or even impossible.
The new law means that if the Brooke has taken the decision to euthanise an abandoned animal, it can do so without the legal risk of someone coming forward afterwards and claiming their animal was taken without consent.
“Euthanasia is always an emotional decision both for our own staff and the local people we work with, but it is our duty to do what we can to provide comfort and relief to suffering animals who work so very hard for the people depending on them,” said Melissa Liszewski, the animal welfare adviser for community engagement at the Brooke.
“The success of the by-laws is just one example of how working at government level is helping the Brooke to support hard working animals.”
The Brooke, a charity which traces its roots back to Egypt in 1934, is dedicated to improving the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules.
It believes that good animal welfare protects human livelihoods, with 100 million working equines powering the developing world. The animals’ efforts support the livelihoods of 600 million people.
The Brooke works with local communities to bring about lasting improvements to the lives of their working animals. Last year the Brooke reached over 1.5 million working horses, donkeys and mules across nearly a dozen countries, and is on target to reach two million working equines each year by 2016.
Liszewski has written a blog on the complexities of euthanasia. To read it, visit here.