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One for RAVC


Book Reviewer
here y'go :


At the side of a road in the occupied West Bank, dedicated volunteers seek to ease the suffering of animals used, and often abused, as beasts of burden in a harsh corner of the world.

In a mobile clinic parked next to an Israeli military checkpoint, not far from the northern town of Qalqilya, Arab-Israeli veterinary surgeon Jaber Kadar, a stethoscope round his neck, gently feels the swollen leg of a large bay colt.

"Radiography!" he calls out, before turning his attention to a sickly-looking grey donkey hungrily sucking worm medicine from a syringe.

"We have the medicines and the tools -- antibiotics, dressings, scalpels -- with which to operate on and care for sick, injured or maltreated donkeys and horses," he said.

Nearby, as a generator hums, a Palestinian blacksmith in a leather apron shoes a mule who is little more than skin and bone.

Around the temporary clinic, lashed by wind and rain, dozens of donkeys and horses, some harnessed to carts, others led on rope halters or carried in trucks, wait for diagnosis and treatment.

Their free treatment is provided by animal-welfare charity Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land, which takes the mobile infirmary around the West Bank and Israel and maintains a sanctuary and rescue centre in the Israeli village of Gan Yoshiya.

On this occasion, owners from the Qalqilya region have heard the clinic is in their area and turned out along with more than 150 braying and whinnying animals await their turn.

"Our team of six people, including two Palestinian vets, also operates near the (West Bank) cities of Bethlehem, Tulkarem and Hebron and the Arab-Israeli town of Taybe," said project leader Adi Zahor, 46.

"We also do important educational work with both young people and adults, mostly poor, who overwork and often abuse their animals out of ignorance or simply from cruelty," he added.

A short drive into Israel takes you to the Gan Yoshiya sanctuary, home of 148 abandoned donkeys, among them "Burnie" who got his name after being set alight by a teenager; "Salaam" who lost a leg after a car accident and others who are blind, mutilated or just old and frail.

"Humble, intelligent & affectionate"
Grey, brown, black, they amble around quietly, occasionally stopping to drink, or chew on bales of hay.

Recognizing Lucy Fensom, the British-born founder of the sanctuary, one of the animals trots toward her, seeking a rub.

"The donkeys usually suffer in silence," she says.

"Humble, intelligent and affectionate, they move me. Here, they can end their days quietly."

Fensom started working in animal welfare in Israel in 1989, at the age of 19, with a job at the Jerusalem Society for the Protection of Animals, where she was exposed to the suffering of donkeys in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

During her work, she came across one badly-abused donkey whom she was determined to save.

Naming the battered creature "Donk" she bought him from his Bedouin owner then launched a campaign, which resulted in him being airlifted to Britain and re-housed at an animal sanctuary in Cambridgeshire, where he was nursed back to health and a gentle retirement.

Her efforts attracted the attention and support of France's Brigitte Bardot Foundation as well as that of other animal-welfare groups, and in 2000 she set up Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land.

"I wanted to come to the aid of the donkeys," she said.

In addition to rescuing old and abused animals, and treating the sick and infirm, Fensom also plans to launch a visitors' centre at the sanctuary to educate local youngsters to respect and care for their donkeys.

(IIRC The Brooke was founded in what was then Palestine.....have they gone? )

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