When Brooke partner AHTCS (Animal Health Training and Consultancy Service) set off on a survey of welfare standards at the brick kilns in Kathmandu valley, Nepal, they did not expect to find a group animals struggling for survival, enclosed and alone in an abandoned kiln. On the 12th of October the AHTCS team found 39 horses, donkeys and mules in dreadful conditions. All animals were in a desperate state, the mangers were empty, there was no trace of water, and fresh faeces showed signs that parasites were raging through their debilitated bodies. The extent of neglect was such that 4 of these animals still alive were simply unable to stand on their own – 17 of them had already died days, or even weeks before. The team leapt into action and promptly started medical treatment and care for the weak and debilitated animals. Usually at the end of the season these brick kiln mules would returned to their original home, transported via road. The cost of transportation is high, costing around 2000 NPR (£14) per animal. In this case, once the working season was over the owner of these poor mules left them with a carer who did not have the means or incentive to care for them as the animals don’t belong to him – and he has his own family to feed. Of the 39 animals that were found, 17 were discovered dead at the scene. The remaining 22 animals were hurriedly attended to by the team of vets. The team traced the owner to find a reason and understand what had lead to this awful case of neglect. He told the team remorsefully that he was in a financial crisis and because of that he reluctantly was unable to take his equines with him or even provide enough funds to feed them. These donkeys, horses and mules are now in the care of AHTCS and the Brooke and are being provided with emergency vet treatment, food, and clean water. This will continue until the brick kiln season starts again and the owner can once again earn enough money to care for his animals. Sadly this is a common fate for many Brick Kiln animals, it is no life for any living thing doing backbreaking work in extreme temperatures. However it is a reality that must be dealt with, and moving forward, we are looking to put in place some extra monitoring and training to ensure that and incident like this does not reoccur. We will update on the progress of these animals in a few weeks, as they start to recover.
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