Cairo is a city of horses and donkeys. The Brooke Hospital has served injured and sick horses there since 1930 when a British woman set out to help the abandoned British military horses there. The wife of a British army major general, Dorothy Brooke was appalled to learn that the walking horse skeletons she saw on the streets of Cairo were actually ex-warhorses of the British, Australian and American forces. She had to help them...and she did. The rest is history...history that is still going on today.
Until a few days ago, all you had to do was say "Cairo" to me and I immediately thought of our friends at The Brooke Hospital for Animals there. The British-based charity has been helping the horses and donkeys--and all animals--of the poor people of Cairo at The Brooke Hospital for more than 80 years.
But now I think of this: (don't watch if you haven't already seen the incredible violence between demonstrators and mounted opponents in Cairo):
And even now,? tonight, I bet our friends at The Brooke are hard at work.
When I saw the horses and camels being ridden into the riots yesterday, I couldn't believe my eyes. What century is this? A week of riots that began with rosy headlines about how social media like Facebook and Twitter had helped create a soft-spoken revolution in the streets had evolved to horses and camels and whips and sticks and chunks of pavement hurled into the air.
It was as if the demonstrations went back a century each day. Now they are back in in the age of warfare on horseback.
The idea of horses in battle doesn't sit well with our friends at The Brooke, whose Karen Reed, Head of Animal Welfare and Research, said in a statement, "The Brooke is extremely concerned about the welfare of horses and camels being ridden into violent protests in the main square in Cairo where thousands of people are gathering.
"Horses were ridden into the middle of the protest with little thought for the welfare of the animals. They were pelted with rocks and sticks. This should never have happened, using these animals in such a way is distressing for the animals as well as being both frightening, and dangerous, for the people around them."
The Brooke is continuing its programs for working horses, donkeys and mules in Egypt as best it can, given the changing environment and civil unrest in the country at present. The original clinic in Cairo remains open and the staff there continue to provide treatment for animals requiring emergency care.
The Brooke's program in Egypt works with more than 200 communities across seven regions of Egypt. Dorcas Pratt, Director of International Development at the Brooke reported, "The (head office in London) is in contact with its main office and clinic in Cairo, and is pleased to confirm all staff in Egypt are safe. We will continue to monitor the situation closely. Our dedicated vets and community animal health teams are continuing to help communities and provide services for animals, where it is practical to do so."
About the Brooke:
When Dorothy Brooke witnessed how badly the ex-warhorses were being treated in Cairo, she went to work. Within three years, she had set up a committee and bought 5,000 of these ex-warhorses. Most were old and in the final stages of collapse, and had to be humanely put down. But, thanks to her compassion and tenacity, all of them ended their lives peacefully.
But Dorothy Brooke knew that her work could not end there, because thousands of horses, donkeys and mules toiled and suffered in Cairo. In 1934, Brooke founded the "Old War Horse Memorial Hospital" in Cairo, with the promise of free veterinary care for all the city's working horses and donkeys?the Brooke Hospital for Animals was born.
Today the charity known simply as "The Brooke" helps horses and other equids in need of veterinary care all over the world. It is quite simply one of the most simple and inspiring of all the horse charities: their mission is to help horses. They just do it. But they always need our help.
Please visit www.thebrooke.org and learn what programs are underway and how you can help. By 2016, the Brooke hopes and plans to have helped two million horses around the world by offering hands-on free veterinary care and advice.