NFA collaborates with organizations in Honduras, Kenya, the Philippines, South Africa, Tanzania, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe to support the rescue and rehabilitation of neglected, abused and abandoned equines. Through the generosity of our supporters, we finance critical veterinary care and conduct long-term outreach programs to educate local communities on the proper care of horses and donkeys. We also campaign against the cruel ‘sport’ of organized horse fighting and work to bring an end to the global donkey skin trade. Our campaign against this brutal practice can be found here: https://networkforanimals.org/campaign/worldwide-donkey-crisis/
Roatan is a holiday island off the northern coast of Honduras that hides a brutal truth about its street animals. Unwanted animals are routinely abused, knocked down and woefully neglected, often discarded like trash. The island’s ‘solution’ for dealing with ‘nuisance’ street animals is to kill them so they don’t ‘pester’ tourists. We support Roatan Rescue, a shelter and veterinary clinic that rescues and cares for these abused and unwanted animals. With our help, Roatan looks after 600 animals – over 550 dogs and cats, and some horses – providing food, veterinary care and shelter. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to support the desperate souls who have nowhere else to go.
Network for Animals campaigns against the cruel and illegal practice of organized horse fighting, a shocking blood sport prevalent in Mindanao, a part of the Southern Philippines where it is billed as a cultural tradition.
In an organized horse fight, a female horse is tied up, and two male horses are incited to fight each other. The female horse’s scent helps to arouse the fighting instinct of the stallions and the ‘winning’ horse mounts the female after fighting. This female horse is effectively raped – all in the name of entertainment.
Organized horse fighting is brutal. During a fight, male horses are forced to bite, kick and strike each other with their hooves, inflicting serious injuries until one of them submits, flees or dies. Gouges, gashes and broken limbs sustained during fights are serious and can be fatal. The suffering experienced by these horses is agonizing.
While most fights last about 15 minutes, they have been known to last for three hours. Today, bouts are limited to one hour, to maximize the number of fights per day. An average of four horses die instantly during organized horse fights each year, many more suffer internal bleeding, contusions and fractures. An estimated 15 horses each year take up to a week to die painful deaths because of such injuries.
Organized horse fighting take place in city stadiums or large fenced areas over three days, before raucous crowds who attend in anticipation of intense fighting, gore and death. Horse fights are referred to as derbies, and arranged by local crime syndicates. While horse fighting is promoted under the guise of tradition, the main reason is gambling, with bets reaching 1,000,000 pesos (£16,000/€19,000). And, although Organized Horse Fighting is illegal, organizers receive sponsorship money from local businesses and politicians, evidence of how accepted the cruelty and pain of organized horse fighting is within Mindanao.
With high stakes in the balance, most horse fights involve purpose bred and trained animals who are large and sturdy and trained to be aggressive.
Local officials can be fiercely protective of the activity and generally defy the national government’s authority on the issue, to the extent that local police are often hired by the promoters for crowd control. The power of organized criminal networks running these fights is very clear.
However, over the last six years Network for Animals has nearly halved the number of such fights taking place in Mindanao, from 33 to 15. This is a worthy achievement, but we will not stop there. Our aim, as with any animal cruelty is to wipe it out completely. We fight with compassion, grassroots involvement, education, petitions and you, our dedicated supporters.
The National Sea Rescue Institutes (NSRI) and Have A Heart Equine Sanctuary (HAHES)
In January 2022, heavy flooding along the Orange River in Namaqualand, South Africa, left 32 horses and three foals stranded on tiny islands surrounded by rising waters. The animals faced imminent death by drowning. The National Sea Rescue Institutes (NSRI) of South Africa and Namibia put out urgent pleas for help, and we were the only organization to respond. Network for Animals rushed to the scene to provide emergency assistance and managed to help save all 32 horses and the three foals. Together with our partner, the Have A Heart Equine Sanctuary (HAHES), we also support the current rehabilitation effort for the horses.
Have a Heart Equine Sanctuary (HAHES)
Bonnievale, South Africa.
The Have a Heart Equine Sanctuary (HAHES) is a valued long-term partner of Network for Animals. Led by former policeman Marc Ward, HAHES is a significant force for equine recue, care and rehabilitation in rural parts of Africa. We support numerous abused donkeys and other equines under the care of HAHES. In addition, we supply HAHES with the much-needed resources and equipment to continue their wonderful work. Our most recent project with HAHES involved successfully rescuing and rehabilitating 32 horses and three foals from drowning in Alexander Bay.
The HUGS Foundation
In the United Kingdom, we support the HUGS Foundation, an equine rescue charity in Bodmin, set within a rural environment. HUGS is a haven for abused, abandoned and neglected horses and ponies. HUGS always tries to find homes for rescued creatures, but more often than not, they remain at the sanctuary for the rest of their lives due to their histories of mistreatment and need for specialist, long-term care.
HUGS tries never to turn away innocent creatures in need. Most recently, six miniature Shetland ponies, a moorland pony and a donkey were at risk of being slaughtered because their owner became to old to care for them. HUGS saved them. Among the rescued newcomers are Oscar the donkey (who has met his true love in Dude, an orphaned foal), orphaned pony siblings Herbie and Gus, and Igor, a tiny white pony who suffers from Dwarfism. Igor is now part of HUGS’ well-being program, which provides support to children, the elderly and veterans.
In Zimbabwe, we support the work of MARES, a donkey and equine sanctuary that has rescued more than 600 sick, injured and abandoned equines since 1999. MARES also conducts educational outreach programs in rural areas which focus on educating donkey owners on welfare, care, the importance of annual vaccinations, and replacing ill-fitting harnesses with padded humane harnesses. Network for Animals has supported MARES for the past four years, contributing to the running of their sanctuary and care of their donkeys.
Funding veterinary care: Veterinary services for horses in the Philippines are basic and often too expensive for impoverished local farmers. As an incentive to stop horse fighting, providing horses are not used in fights, Network for Animals provides free veterinary clinics in communities where horse fighting is prevalent.
Education: Educating the public about the animal welfare concerns inherent in horse fighting is a crucial part of our work. Network regularly persuades television stations and newspapers to cover the horse fighting issue, reaching hundreds of thousands of people with our message of compassion. Additionally, we print and distribute educational leaflets and posters in horse fighting areas, give presentations to veterinarians, schools and civic groups, and when funding allows, run advertisements in newspapers.
Petitions: Tourism is a vital source of revenue for the southern Philippines, an area that has an abundance of world class diving locations and beaches. Network works to petition prominent officials, with our team following up all petitions.