Wednesday, December 18, 2019 - Fiona Williams Fiona Williams

The President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has chosen two charities that help to treat some of the most vulnerable animals for the College’s annual Christmas donation.

The recipients of the £3,000 donation are StreetVet and The American Fondouk – each will receive £1,500 – which were both chosen by Dr Niall Connell. StreetVet, which became a registered charity earlier this year, provides free veterinary care to the animal companions of the homeless community in cities in England, Scotland and Wales, with hundreds of veterinary and veterinary nurse volunteers helping with tasks such as vaccination, microchipping and administering pain relief as well as antibiotics to control infection.

Niall Connell commented: “Since it started in 2016 I have been a great admirer of the work that StreetVet has been carrying out amongst some of the most vulnerable people and animals in the UK. It’s a sad fact that homelessness levels have increased in recent years[1] and we also know that many in the homeless community have dogs, which often act as a vital source of companionship, love and stability in their lives. So to see these vets recognising a problem and finding a way to help those who are struggling is utterly inspiring, and I was very happy for the RCVS to make a donation to their cause on behalf of the profession.”

In response to the donation Sam Joseph MRCVS and Jade Statt MRCVS, the co-founders of the charity, said: “On behalf of everyone at StreetVet we would like to say a huge thank you to the RCVS President for selecting us as one of their chosen charities this Christmas. The RCVS and the veterinary profession as a whole continue to support us at every step allowing StreetVet teams across the country to continue providing essential care to pets belonging to those most in need. This fantastic donation will be used to pay for set-up costs that allow StreetVet teams to do their valuable work in two new locations this year.”

The American Fondouk is a charity that provides free veterinary care for working donkeys, horses and mules in the Moroccan city of Fez, recognising that many of the city’s poorest people are reliant on these animals for transportation and labour. The charity also provides education to the population on care and nutrition for working equids.

Niall added: “Many veterinary students at the University of Glasgow volunteer with The American Fondouk and, as one of the undergraduate assessors at the University, I have noticed how much the students have valued their time volunteering there and the difference they felt they were making to the lives of both the animals and the people who depend on their hard work. This view was cemented by a presentation from the charity’s Director, Dr Gigi Kay, at the RCVS Fellowship Day in 2018, where she described the very hard lives led by working equids in the developing world as well as how she was helping to train up local veterinary talent.”

In response to the donation Dr Kay FRCVS said: “The American Fondouk is honoured and delighted to have been chosen as the recipient of a Christmas donation from the RCVS.

“Our mission in Morocco is to help the poorest sectors of the community through the provision of free veterinary care to their working horses, mules and donkeys. In Morocco in common with many other developing world countries, the rural and the peri-urban economies literally ride on the backs of the working equid. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, for example, has estimated that up to 75% of traction energy in Africa is supplied by working animals, and when one realises the economic importance of these animals to their owners, it is easy to understand that the provision of high-quality veterinary care is in many instances a lifeline. The American Fondouk runs a full service equine hospital in Fez, with 40 stables and 10 veterinarians, to provide just that. We know that the well-being of a working mule is intimately linked with the well-being of an owner and his entire family.

“Sometimes though, despite the best efforts of the Fondouk veterinary team, a mule or donkey loses its battle for life. In these instances the owner can be left destitute. As a result of the generous donation from the RCVS, the Fondouk will be able to buy eight replacement mules for farmers whose mules have died. This is a Christmas gift that will feed eight families for many years to come. Really a gift that carries on giving.”

The charity donation is made by the RCVS to a charity (or charities) chosen by the President every Christmas in lieu of posting cards. Previous recipients in recent years have included the Links Group, The Horse Trust, Medical Detection Dogs, Worldwide Veterinary Service, Mind, Riding for the Disabled Association, Canine Partners, Hounds for Heroes, and Vetlife.

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