a happy dog

What Was the Animal Health Trust?

Founded in 1946 as the “Veterinary Education Trust” by Walter Reginald Wooldridge, the Animal Health Trust (AHT) was an independent charity based in Kentford, Newmarket, UK. The AHT focused on the research and treatment of diseases in companion animals (cats, dogs, horses, etc.), and to promote veterinary arts and sciences.

At its peak, the organization employed more than 200 vets, scientists, and support staff, and was awarded a Royal Charter in 1963. As a non-profit, AHT did not receive government funding. Under financial duress in the pandemic of 2020, the charity ended its operations and its assets were liquidated.

The AHT’s primary activities were:

  • Advancing post-graduation education in the veterinary sciences
  • Improving the knowledge, technology, execution of the diagnosis, prevention, and cure of disease

Providing clinical referral services for veterinary practitioners

Education, Research, and Veterinary Services

The organization was essentially grouped into three main categories: Research, Education and Veterinary Services, which could be combined for maximum efficiency

Education

The AHT was all about advancing education and post-graduate training, and its clinics offered internship and residency training programs. The Continuous Professional Development (CPD) program was considered the pinnacle of its educational objectives.

 

The organization also published research and clinical findings that were simultaneously hosted on its own open-access library. AHT’s now-defunct website also published important news updates relevant to its charter.

 

Research

Research was focused a pair of key areas: infectious and inherited diseases. Infectious disease included bacteriology, equine epidemiology, immunology, virology, and surveillance. Inherited disease research included genetics, oncology and stem cell research.

 

Veterinary Services

The Animal Health Trust’s veterinary clinics provided referral services to small animal and equine veterinarians. It had two centers with active clinical research programs: the Centre for Small Animal Studies and Centre for Equine Studies. It also offered diagnostic laboratories and DNA testing services. Both clinics were essential to AHTs educational mission, coordinating diagnostics and DNA testing services with research teams to advance developments. All of these initiatives were driven by the AHT’s fundraising and support teams, e.g.. management, finance, information technology, human resources, and property maintenance

Fundraising Issues in a Pandemic

According to the Animal Health Trust’s Wikipedia page, the charity was forced into liquidation because of fundraising limitations during the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020. It’s genuinely unfortunate that such a noble organization doing so much to improve the well-being of our beloved pets was forced into closing its doors. Let’s hope all those involved in AHT continued to carry on the mission.