The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA) is on standby to send representatives to Iraq to help animals in the war zone, including an estimated 1⁄2m horses, donkeys and mules.

Chief executive Jeremy Hulme says: “We help working equines, which people at the very bottom of the heap use in their struggle to survive. We know that outside the towns something like 90% of all water in this region comes home on the back of a donkey – animals’ survival is crucial to human survival.”

The organisation already has long-standing operations in neighbouring Jordan and Syria, with approximately 25 local people in each country, including four vets, running mobile clinics from specially equipped Land Rovers.

“Our mobile clinics are equipped to deal with minor injuries right through to major surgical procedures. From our experience in other war zones, we expect to find many animals with bullet wounds and shrapnel injuries when we first move into Iraq.

“We’ll make contact with the vet schoolin Baghdad and offer supplies and support to any existing veterinary services,” says Jeremy.

Aid agencies, including SPANA, are currently awaiting the all clear to enter Iraq, but at present there is little idea of when this may happen.

“We are used to working in difficult countries in difficult situations and are seen as pretty non-political. We will start work as soon as it is safe for us to do so,” says Jeremy.

To find out more about SPANA’s work, or to make a donation, visit www.spana.org

Read more news in this week’s Horse & Hound (27 March), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.