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Celebrity vet's mission to save the brick kiln donkeys of Cairo

Vet Emma Milne, star of the hit TV series 'Vets in Practice', has returned to Egypt with the Brooke Hospital for Animals to raise the plight of donkeys slaving in the brick kilns of Cairo.

Emma was first made aware of the suffering inflicted upon thousands of donkeys when she visited the brick kiln sites with the Brooke last year. A subsequent article in the People newspaper raised nearly £20,000 and has enabled the Brooke to purchase a new 'mobile team' (vehicle plus vets) to reach even more 'brick kiln donkeys'.

Donkeys often work 12-hour days in temperatures as high as 50C pulling heavy loads of bricks on carts between the brick making machines and the furnaces. Most suffer from heat exhaustion, pressure sores, lameness, malnutrition and broken bones. The workers themselves are very poor and work under arduous conditions and tend to beat the donkeys to make them work as hard as possible. Before Brooke's arrival, the animals had a very short lifespan and many would be worked to death.

Today, Brooke mobile teams provide free veterinary treatment for the donkeys. They also educate brick kiln owners and workers in equine care, install water troughs, construct shade shelters and work to improve the design of harnesses and saddle packs.

But as Cairo is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, its hunger for bricks is insatiable. An extra mobile vehicle was badly needed - as Emma quickly came to realise during her first trip to Egypt:

"When I first visited a brick kiln site, I saw donkeys quite literally being flogged to death while hauling bricks. But there are many sites and a frustrating number of animals that go untreated. This new vehicle allows another whole mobile team of educators and vets to operate and is much more suited to the rough terrain in which they work."

Bill Swann, the Brooke's International Director, could not agree more: "This new mobile team will enable Brooke to visit the kilns at a frequency where we can make a real difference and ultimately bring about lasting change."

Fortunately for Emma, she was relieved to see a positive year-on-year change in the condition of the donkeys at the brick kilns: "I was over the moon with the progress that has happened in just one year. The donkeys had fewer wounds, they were better fed and looked less defeated. But there is still a long way to go."

The Brooke Hospital for Animals is the largest charity of its kind helping working horses, donkeys and mules overseas. With over 500 staff 'in the field'; we provide free veterinary care via mobile teams and field clinics to equine animals in Egypt, Jordan, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. We work closely with owners - who are entirely reliant on their animals for an income - providing advice, training and practical ways to improve the welfare of their animal. We have 70 years of experience and have extended our expertise far and wide to other organisations.

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