I've just returned from working with the Society of Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA) in Ethiopia. It was a privilege to work with such a great organization, and to document their work with working animals, from education and training to free mobile vet clinics. The first day, we drove out of Addis Ababa and seemed to slip back in time as we reached a station under the bridge, where horses and carriages waited to take people up the dirt roads beyond, where the local transport would not travel. We made our way to the location of the mobile veterinary clinic, where there must have been 30-40 men waiting with their horses. The SPANA team began the clinic by giving a small talk about proper harnessing (one of the main causes of preventable injury in Ethiopian working horses), and offered free harnesses to those who needed them. After the introduction, the clinic began, with horses being seen in the order that they arrived. Cases ranged from mild injuries caused by ill-fitting harnesses, bits and over-work to the most serious cases where an appointment for euthanasia had to be made. This was the first of many mobile veterinary clinics that I photographed.
The SPANA team worked tirelessly to not only provide free medical care, but also to train local owners about how to take better care of their animals. Although there were some cases that were hard to watch, it was inspiring to see the work that SPANA are doing and to meet some local horse owners and hear about how much they have learnt and how their families have benefited from the assistance. Here are a few photos from the trip (excluding the medical case studies and specialized stories, which will be published by SPANA on their website and other media):
For more information about SPANA and the work that they do for the working animals of the world, have a look at their website.