Monday, February 06, 2012

Foal Defomity: SPANA's Video Postcard from a Developing World Clinic

This video is provided to give you an idea of the type of challenges that a charity like SPANA faces at its clinics. We do not have medical records or radiographs of this foal to document the severity of the injury. We all know that this type of deformity would be a challenge to any veterinary practice, and yet the treatment seems very simple and straightforward and the effect was almost immediate on this foal.

Far away in Morocco, a mule called Amina was born with a painful deformity to her fetlock joints which meant she was unable to straighten her front legs. Her worried owner, Bouishak, brought the foal, aged two weeks, to the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA) veterinary center.

In developing countries like Morocco, most donkeys, mules, horses and camels support the families who own them: they carry goods or produce to market, they plow land for crops or they transport people and their belongings.

Amina arrived at the clinic unable to stand on her hooves.

If an animal is born with a condition that means they can’t work, they’re of little use. Their impoverished owners simply can’t afford to look after a lame animal, so if they're unable to work, they are usually abandoned or put down.

Without veterinary treatment, the wounds to Amina's fetlocks would soon have become infected and the owner may well have had no choice but to put Amina out of her misery.

The wounds were cleaned with antiseptic cream, and then carefully wrapped with soft padding and bandages. Head SPANA vet Dr Hinnach then applied splints to keep Amina's legs in the correct, extended position while they strengthened.

The foal's pressure sores from "standing" on her fetlocks were at risk of infection.

Over the next few days SPANA's dedicated team of vets closely monitored Amina’s care and her incredible recovery surprised everyone. Amazingly, Amina was able to walk a week later, but the splints were kept on for a few more weeks to allow the legs to fully strengthen.

Dr Hinnach filmed Amina’s first steps--Amina’s joy at being able to walk is clear to see.

SPANA vets gave this foal a future.

The low-tech treatment on this young foal used simple splints over bandages.

We all know how expensive a treatment like this would be for a foal in a developed nation. The radiography, antiseptics, medication and orthopedic devices would run into the thousands of dollars. The foal would have to have a high potential value and it would need a good prognosis for an athletic future.

SPANA, however, estimated that it could offer this treatment for less than $50US to pay for splints, padded bandages, antiseptic cream, three rolls of cotton and penicillin.

Hopefully, you will donate to SPANA. That's the point of this article. But maybe it is a good idea to look beyond just donating some money to support SPANA and organizations like it.

Farrier and vet innovators are climbing a high-tech ladder that towers high above the simple tenets of basic health and care of horses' and donkeys' hooves. We have reached a point where tech-based treatments and products are available to anyone with enough open credit on their cards to purchase them.

But what if the same brain power could be used to de-engineer hoof treatments? The world needs some simple low-cost solutions to the needs of working equids in less-advantaged nations. We also need low-cost ideas for hoof protection when natural disasters hit and hooves are in danger of heat or puncture damage.

The same low-tech, low-cost solutions could be put to good use by horse rescue and wild horse sanctuaries right here in the developed world, as well.

Please, don't stop thinking high-tech, but maybe some little part of your brain power can think about the horses and donkeys in need out there, wherever they are. I'm sure that groups like SPANA would love to hear your ideas, or invite you to be part of their programs.

I would, too...and I'll tell the world what you've developed for them.

Followup: Amina's treatment was done in July 2011. Dr Hinnich recently visited the family and was pleased that she was walking normally. If Amina needs any care in the future, it will be provided free by SPANA.

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Kate said...

What a heartwarming video and story. Thanks for sharing, Fran.

Jayne said...

The video is wonderful. Amazing that could be achieved with such low tech care.

lita dove said...

Have immediately sent donation to SPANA.
Thank you, for getting these stories out to us.

In a world of wretchedness, nice to know there is still hope--and love.

Fran Jurga said...

I'm so glad you all enjoyed the SPANA video! It's wonderful that this foal was taken to the hospital early in life and received some help!