Together for Animals: She can barely move, let alone work

A lifetime of backbreaking work with no hope of retirement. That’s the heart-breaking reality for most working animals in the countries where Together for Animals member SPANA operates.

Many won’t make it to an older age. Of those that do, almost all will experience excruciatingly painful, stiff and swollen joints. Agonising arthritis causes their bodies to seize up and, some days, they can barely move – but still, they must work on.

Shada is a mule, working in Marrakech, Morocco. Life there is extremely tough for working animals. At an age when she should retire, daily life for Shada has only grown harder. Day in, day out, she carries heavy loads of construction materials in oppressive 40-degree heat for her owner, Mustafa, and his family.

Some days, because of an unbearable flare-up of arthritis, Shada can hardly move, let alone haul a heavy cart along the hard, dusty roads of Marrakech. With no rest, her joints become tender, hot and inflamed and she faces crippling lameness. Shada’s movements became more laboured as her joints grew stiffer. The soft cartilage between her bones was breaking down.

Together for Animals: She can barely move, let alone work

Luckily, SPANA’s team of trained vets were on hand. When Mustafa brought Shada to see them at the SPANA centre in Marrakech, they gave her a full physical examination, feeling her joints for any abnormalities. The affected joint was swollen and tender and an X-ray confirmed that Shada was suffering from arthritis. Vets prescribed pain relief and a two-week course of anti-inflammatories to ease her discomfort. Mustafa was advised to let Shada rest for one to two weeks before gradually introducing her back to work, with more breaks and a decreased load. SPANA vets also stressed the importance of regular hoof trimmings, proper shoes and an adequate cart to help manage Shada’s arthritis.

Sadly, there are still many older working animals, like Shada, that are suffering from this debilitating condition. For working animals, like humans, arthritis can be an invisible condition. But, unlike us, these animals cannot voice their pain. It is deeply saddening for any animal lover to imagine what they must endure every single day.

The funds Together for Animals raises helps animals like Shada live a happier, healthier life. You can find out more on our website –