Old Bill – one of the first war horses rescued by Dorothy Brooke in 1931.
From humble beginnings as a hospital for ex-warhorses in a dusty Cairo street founded in 1934, the Brooke has become the leading international welfare charity for working equine welfare.
On arrival in Egypt in 1930, Dorothy Brooke was horrified to see hundreds of emaciated horses being used as beasts of burden on the streets of Cairo.
The wife of a British army major general, Dorothy Brooke was appalled to learn that these walking skeletons were ex-warhorses of the British, Australian and American forces.
All of them had seen service in the First World War. When the conflict ended in 1918, they were sold into a life of hard labour in Cairo.
Dorothy Brooke could not shake off the memory of these pitiful creatures. She wrote a letter to the Morning Post – which later became the Daily Telegraph – exposing their plight. Read the full text of her appeal.
The public were so moved they sent her the equivalent of £20,000 in today’s money to help end the suffering of these once proud horses.
Within three years, Dorothy Brooke had set up a committee and bought five thousand of these ex-warhorses. Most were old and in the final stages of collapse, and had to be humanely put down. But, thanks to her compassion and tenacity, all of them ended their lives peacefully.
But Dorothy Brooke knew that her work could not end there while thousands of horses, donkeys and mules still suffered.
In 1934, Dorothy Brooke founded the ‘Old War Horse Memorial Hospital’ in Cairo, with the promise of free veterinary care for all the city’s working horses and donkeys and the Brooke Hospital for Animals was born.”