Animal Wise

These programs provide education that directly links the welfare of animals to the welfare of a community. This can be accomplished in many formats ranging from basic care and public education to demonstrating gentle handling techniques in the field. In all arenas, kindness is always the underlying message.

Draft Animals

It is KI's goal to teach gentle handling and healthy care of all animals. This includes these powerful beasts of burden. Efficient yokes, proper housing, ideal food storage are also some of the aspects of animal welfare that are taught and implemented in the small villages that use animals to plow the fields.

Before KI provided these working animals to Yua (14 hours from Accra, Ghana) the men did all of the plowing. With the new addition of oxen and donkeys, the yield is now three times what it was with manual labor. Although there are still many more animals that are needed to improve food production for these villages, we are intent on moving slowly with education as a priority. With the help of a local veterinarian, KI subsidized the construction of a more efficient and animal friendly substitute for the square yoke initially tried by the villagers. KI also supplied a 400-gallon water tank to the village of Yua to insure an ample water supply for the oxen in dry seasons.

village animal


In Yua, this is the first time animals have been used in the fields. It is already improving crop yield. Training in gentle handling of these oxen is being implemented from the beginning and will ensure that they live longer. The efficiency of the new yokes will maximize the use of their power so that they will not be overworked.


We can prevent this from happening!

Gentle Handling

Gentle Handling is the heart of Kindness International. It is a term coined by Jan Mitchell (the founder of KI) when first working in Ethiopia with the downtrodden horses. In its simplest form, it means treating the animals in the kindest manner possible. Each situation requires that we approach, touch and communicate with the animal in every way possible that helps it to relax them so that they can receive the treatments we are administering. The calmer the animal, the more efficiently they can receive the care being given.

girl with a horse

When animals are handled in a gentle manner versus a controlling or cruel manner, they will respond with a desire to please as opposed to resist. The teaching of this concept is especially powerful in the places that KI travels where animals are regarded primarily as things and not creatures. When Jan first arrived in Ethiopia, the horses were plagued by open sores on their bodies. The addition of constant whipping had weakened them and caused them continual pain. It was evident in many of their eyes, that their spirit had been broken. As a result, they often fell or died in the streets. Horses that were considered "wild" were often constrained by ropes and their eyes covered by cloth in order to "control" them. When KI staff spoke softly to one such horse, stroked the horse's back very gently and approached the horse calmly, he eventually allowed us to put medication on his very painful wounds. Crowds of people watched in awe as the ropes and cloth were removed. They saw that simple gentleness had the calming effect needed to approach this horse. They began to see that “wild” meant “in need of a gentle touch”

In Ghana, nose rings were removed from the oxen. KI encouraged the men who tended to them to gently stroke their backs, and as a result the oxen came when called. With the introduction of these gentle handling along with ploughing animals, the fields now yield three times more food for the villagers. They recognize the importance of taking good care of their work force.

boy with a horse

The art of gentle handling is not something that needs to be taught, it is something inherently known. We learn from childhood to treat others, as we ourselves would like to be treated, although many of us may grow up feeling incapable of doing that. In the animal world, we are dealing with an unconditional love that is being expressed by the animals and as humans if we remember to return that, the results are instant. In it’s purest form it is always without judgment and it is where two species can work together through understanding and compassion to create healing. Gentle Handling is the tactile expression of these qualities.

Whether we are working with chickens, dogs or oxen, it is Kindness International's intention to constantly seek the gentlest, kindest ways of treating the animals.


Our experience has continually shown that those who need their animals to survive will benefit the most from a healthy animal. When the concept is thoroughly embraced, it also tends to encourage people to treat each other better as well. Kindness is contagious.

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