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Animal Health Trust considers survival plan

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Kentford’s world-renowned Animal Heath Trust is proposing to close its small animal and equine referral clinics in a bid to secure its future.

Following its shock announcement in March that it was facing closure following a period of ‘dire financial constraint’ the Animal Health Trust (AHT), which employs more than 250 staff, said that if the charity was to continue, the ‘only viable option was for it to revert to its core purpose of providing world-renowned veterinary and scientific research’.

As a result, the trustees are proposing to close the AHT’s small animal and equine referral clinics.

Olympic gold medal winning dressage horse, Valegro, uses the Animal Health Trust’s water treadmill.
Olympic gold medal winning dressage horse, Valegro, uses the Animal Health Trust’s water treadmill.

“The work at the Animal Health Trust is truly unique and being told that the referral clinics could be closing and there was no longer a job for you is a terrible prospect and especially difficult for our teams of dedicated vets, nurses and support staff all of whom take so much pride and care in looking after their patients and owners,” said AHT trustee Steve Shore, “but we must make difficult decisions to create a possible future for the AHT.

“We also need to do this right, which means we will work closely with our employees and representatives, as appropriate and going through a formal consultation process with everyone affected.”

He continued: “The Animal Health Trust was founded nearly 80 years ago by Dr W Reg Wooldridge who wanted the charity to promote veterinary research and prevent suffering in companion animals.

“The trustees believe in making this difficult decision the AHT will continue to have this vision at its heart and will give it the best chance of future success.”

For many years the AHT, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2017, has been at the forefront of work in cats and dogs, but it is its association with the equine world for which it is perhaps most widely known. Its surveillance networks for diseases such as strangles and equine influenza are vital to the UK’s multi billion-pound horse racing industry.

It holds DNA samples for every thoroughbred registered in the UK. It also houses the UK’s largest canine genome bank which holds the entire genomes of 89 dogs from 77 breeds, which it uses to tackle inherited diseases.