The Animal Health Trust is dedicated to fighting disease
as a vital contribution towards animal welfare. We believe
that the problems of disease are the main cause of suffering
and pain in animals today. Although cases of cruelty and abuse
command the newspaper headlines, they are fortunately rare
compared to the thousands of animals suffering from disease
and illness - often in silence and alone.The Trust takes its
responsibilities for the animals in its care very seriously.
The animals we study receive the highest levels of veterinary
care, love and affection - the same as other people's animals
entrusted to our care in our hospitals. In fact we believe
that the animals we care for are some of the most pampered
you will find anywhere!Scientific research for both human
and animal benefit raises a major ethical dilemma - can the
research be justified by the wider benefit accruing from the
We would like to emphasise, that the Trust undertakes no
research that uses animals for the testing of human products
- all our work is designed to benefit animals directly. Our
programme is focused mainly on genetic research to eradicate
inherited diseases, some of which can be extremely debilitating,
and the development of new vaccines against infectious disease.
Much of this work can be done through computer simulations
and tissue samples but before a new vaccine can be licensed,
it is a legal requirement that it must first be tested with
the target species to make sure it works.
Our testing uses Welsh Mountain ponies which following the
trials are typically re-homed as children's riding ponies.
In the few cases where we are working with the more contagious
diseases, it is possible that an animal may become a carrier.
Under these circumstances, the Home Office regulations sensibly
preclude the possibility of re-homing and the attendant risk
of disease transmission to healthy animals outside the Trust.
Vaccines developed in this way prevent immense suffering and
death to literally thousands of horses around the world. The
potential consequences of an outbreak of a particular virulent
form of equine influenza were seen a few years ago in Asia
when no vaccine was available. In China, which has no effective
equine inoculation programme, some 60,000 horses died and
several times that number suffered long-term debilitating
effects. Such catastrophic epidemics are prevented in this
country and Europe, largely because of the work of the Trust
in developing effective vaccines and through our diligent
surveillance and investigation of all outbreaks of infectious
diseases in horses. If you own a dog you will almost certainly
have had it vaccinated against the killing disease, distemper.
The Animal Health Trust pioneered the research for this vaccine
and thousands of dogs have been saved from a long illness,
convulsions and death because of this work.
We hope this short account of just some of the life saving
work of the Animal Health Trust will encourage you to support
our endeavours to improve animal welfare
To find out more about the AHT why not visit their website