An international organization that aims to end the suffering of thousands of working equids in impoverished regions worldwide received the 2010 Lavin Cup today. The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) gives this equine welfare award annually.

The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA), a United Kingdom-based charity that seeks to alleviate human poverty by ensuring the welfare of working animals, was honored today during the President's Luncheon at the 2010 AAEP convention in Baltimore. SPANA was the first international organization to receive the Lavin Cup, which recognizes a nonveterinary group that has distinguished itself through work to improve equine welfare.

SPANA was established after founder Kate Hosali and her daughter, Nina, witnessed the suffering of working animals in northern Africa while traveling through the area in 1923. Initially, SPANA offered practical medical resources and education about the proper care of animals in impoverished communities in north and western Africa. Educating owners about proper care to prevent the common causes of animal mistreatment has remained the heart of SPANA's philosophy.

Today, SPANA operates permanent service centers in eight countries, including Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco, Jordan, Syria, Tunisia, Mali, and Ethiopia, and it responds to animal welfare emergencies around the world. SPANA's 21 mobile clinics travel nearly 450,000 miles per year, stopping to educate impoverished communities about proper animal care and provide medical treatment for horses suffering from saddle sores, disease, injuries and other conditions resulting from neglect. In addition to offering medical resources, SPANA associates train equid owners on basic husbandry, feeding, and the proper use of tack.

With the support of Fort Dodge Animal Health, SPANA responded to an emerging disease epidemic in Ethiopia in 2009 by providing 10,000 vaccinations to working equids. Each year, an average 11,000 horses and donkeys are treated for multiple wounds and an average 14,500 receive teeth rasping through SPANA. In addition, SPANA has partnered with veterinary organizations and universities in China, Zimbabwe, India and South America to support outreach projects.

"We know that this is the first time this prize has been given to an organization outside America," Jeremy Hulme, chief executive of SPANA, said of the award. "That SPANA's work should be sufficiently known and approved of by such a prestigious organization as the AAEP is especially rewarding."

For more information about SPANA's mission, visit their website.

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American Association of Equine Practitioners

AAEP Mission: To improve the health and welfare of the horse, to further the professional development of its members, and to provide resources and leadership for the benefit of the equine industry. More information:

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