The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA) is a United Kingdom-based charity whose mission is to alleviate human poverty by ensuring the welfare of working animals. It works far from the United States, and its concerns are surely far from the minds of American veterinarians as they work on show and pleasure horses in any of our 50 states.
Yet someone within the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) has his or her ears up. At the AAEP’s 56th Annual Convention, held in Baltimore, Maryland, last month, the AAEP awarded its Lavin Cup–an annual award that recognizes a non-veterinary group that has distinguished itself through work to improve equine welfare–to the very under-publicized but highly achieving British charity.
You’ve probably never heard of SPANA because they’re just too busy working to get around to much publicity. I’ve never seen much literature on them, never seen a YouTube channel for them (until today), never seen any famous rock stars or Hollywood celebrities stumping for them on late-night television. They just keep working, and spend their donors’ dollars where it counts.
The video says it all by answering the questions: why should we care, why should we work to help the unfortunate animals unlucky enough to be born in Third World countries instead of Kentucky? You may be surprised, if you travel around the world, to find how many horses are descended from racehorses with blue blood in their veins, since racing is so important on virtually every continent. It’s often a matter of “trickle down economics” as ex-racehorses go to work when their careers are over, and horses distantly descended or cast off from the stables of the wealthiest citizens in poor countries end up as beasts of burden on whose working power a family’s livelihood may depend.
There really are no borders and no language barriers when it comes to helping horses. SPANA knows that, and the AAEP recognized it. Congratulations to both organizations for being so aware of horses and other equids beyond our immediate view, and for directing the horse world’s attention to the places where it can matter the most.