Dressage stars Charlotte Dujardin and Alice Oppenheimer are backing a new emergency appeal by Brooke to raise £100,000 to support working horses, donkeys and mules impacted by India’s devastating Covid-19 crisis.

Brooke has worked in India since 1992 and the country is home to the charity’s largest and most wide-ranging work, often with remote and vulnerable communities.

India hit a record 414,188 new coronavirus infections last weekend and the figure continues to rise.

Working equines are carrying essential supplies of food and water for their communities and the animals’ continued health is key to helping their owners recover from the economic and health impacts of the virus.

“Like others, I have found it deeply upsetting watching the current crisis unfold in India and my heart goes out to all who are affected,” said Charlotte.

“When I visited with Brooke in 2015 I was struck by the warm welcome and kindness I received from communities and I’m especially thinking of those people and their animals at this devastating time.

Alice joined Charlotte in India in 2015 Photo: Brooke

“Now, more than ever, it’s important we keep animals healthy so that they can continue to support their communities.”

Alice, who joined Charlotte on that same trip six years ago, said she is “heartbroken” about the impact Covid-19 is having.

“During my time in the country I saw first hand the vital contribution that working animals make to livelihood,” she added.

“If we’ve learnt one thing during this pandemic it’s that we’re all in this together and it’s important we remember this as we think of those in India.”

Government classes vet care as essential

A statement from Brooke said: “India’s government has classified veterinary care as essential, and Brooke staff have been given special passes allowing them to reach animals and communities that are isolated and in desperate need.

Working equines are carrying vital food and water supplies Photo: Brooke

“Staff are prioritising the use of telemedicine and providing guidance to local health practitioners on the phone and via Whatsapp where possible,” continued the statement.

“If in-person assistance is needed, staff are taking all necessary precautions to keep themselves and communities safe, including social distancing, double masking, and sanitising.”

Funds from the emergency appeal will ensure that Brooke can continue to help animals in need for several months.

The charity added that even when the surge in infections subsides, remote communities will continue to need their animals to be healthy in order to rebuild life after Covid-19.

Go to the emergency appeal here

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