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Animal Friends Blog


An Insight into SPANA’s Vital ‘Lameness Programme’

The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA) was founded in 1923 by Kate Hosali and her daughter, Nina, after they witnessed the suffering of animals throughout their travels in North Africa. From these beginnings the charity has now grown to become one of the most active and vital animal welfare charities in the world, helping hundreds of thousands of donkeys, horses, mules, camels and livestock across Africa and the Middle East.

In addition to treating animals that are in a bad way, SPANA actively try to pass on their expertise and knowledge through their education programme by teaching children and owners about compassion and respect for animals. They are also there to help during times of conflict, drought and natural disasters, providing help to not just the animals, but also the communities that depend on them (millions of people in developing countries rely on animals for their livelihoods).

One project that brings together all aspects of SPANA’s vital work is their Lameness Programme. Lameness occurs due to overgrown feet, badly trimmed hooves and unskilled farriery and this affects many thousands of working animals worldwide. When animals develop chronic lameness they can become redundant and abandoned to face a slow and painful death. It is awful that so many animals are dying due to a lack of regular skilled hoof care.

Here at Animal Friends we have a belief that every animal has the right to lead a happy and pain-free life. This belief is at the core of our business and in order to uphold this view, we try to help with animal welfare projects as much as we can. Thus, upon hearing about SPANA’s excellent Lameness Programme we knew we had to support their great work and recently donated £40,000 to help fund the project.

So What Does the Project Entail?

First, let’s take a look at the key causes of lameness.

Poorly Fitting Shoes: If an equine has shoes that are uneven or do not fit properly, then this can cause the animal’s hooves to grow in an uneven manner leading to pain and injury and then lameness or tendon damage.

ill-fitting shoe

Neglected and Overgrown Hooves: When hooves are left untrimmed and grow excessively long, pressure is put on the wrong part of the animal’s sole, again, leading to the onset of lameness. In some cases, hooves are left to become so overgrown that the animal cannot walk without serious injury.

Nail-work: It is common for shoes to be hammered on with masonry nails. These can penetrate the sensitive areas of the hoof, causing terrible pain as well as the possibility of serious infection.

poor nailing

Lack of Knowledge and Understanding from Owners: Many owners of working animals across Africa and the Middle East do not know what to look for in terms of spotting the early signs of lameness. This is crucial as once lameness sets in it is difficult to manage.

How Does the Lameness Programme Help?

Farrier Training: SPANA works in countries such as Ethiopia, Morocco and Tunisia (where farriers have limited skills or are in desperately short supply) to prevent the suffering caused by lameness by training more farriers, teaching them about hoof balance and improving their technique for trimming and shoeing, whilst using tools they can easily obtain and afford.

Farrier Services: SPANA has a number of permanent centres and mobile clinics that have farrier technicians working to treat equines. Treatment includes trimming overgrown hooves, correcting imbalances and repairing damage caused by unskilled farriers.

Educating Owners: Promoting good animal welfare practices and educating owners are both important parts of the programme; raising awareness and increasing learning will help to prevent lameness and reduce the suffering of working animals. SPANA works closely with animal owners to improve their knowledge of lameness prevention, to enable them to see the economic benefits of having a healthier animal and to show them the impact that lameness can really have.

How Will Animal Friends’ Donation of £40,000 Help?

The donation we have made is going to allow SPANA to provide full farrier training across Ethiopia, Morocco and Tunisia. The courses will train the local people of these countries, as well as training people from the UK to go out there and work on reducing the widespread lameness that is currently affecting so many poor animals. Funds will also help with the huge day-to-day costs of the already existing farrier centres and mobile clinics that SPANA has established.

Read more about SPANA’s excellent work and see what other projects they have in place.

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Hello, fellow animal lovers! I’m Elena, and I take care of social media for Animal Friends Insurance. I’m here to share the latest on animal welfare, our charity work and pet care. I foster and adopt rabbits and have a rescue dog called Luna.

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