The UK’s world-renowned Animal Health Trust (AHT) is to close all operations after failing to secure the millions it needs to continue.
The AHT has been at the forefront of major veterinary research projects for the racing industry and the FEI, such as the heat and humidity research for the 1996 Atlanta and subsequent Olympic Games. As recently as last week it decided to shut down its equine and small animal referral clinics in a bid to save the research side. But today in a brief statement it announced that even that plan was unviable. Around 250 jobs will be lost.
The AHT’s financial problems pre-date the Covid-19 crisis. Two years ago it sold a large mansion, Landwades House, on its site near Newmarket for around $3 million to raise some cash.
The latest shortfall in funding partly relates to the growth of other equine referral centres in the UK, and the AHT’s recent emphasis on the small animal side, which does not attract wealthy donors from the racing and equine industries.
HRH The Princess Royal is the AHT’s long-time patron. The AHT celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2017.
The AHT revealed it was in “dire” trouble in March. Some supporters began their own fundraising campaigns but the AHT said it would prefer to secure a large donation from a wealthy individual. The AHT already has a network of high worth supporters through its Fellowship scheme.
The AHT 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. Its surveillance network is also pivotal to the control of strangles and equine ‘flu for the UK racing industry. Most recently it led a global research project on the use of water treadmills for equine rehabilitation after injury.