Our history of helping horses

Painting showing The Blue Cross helping wounded horses in WW1

At the outbreak of the First World War thousands of British men and horses suddenly found themselves in a living hell on the other side of the English Channel.

While The Red Cross cared for soldiers on the battlefields, The Blue Cross Fund was there to help the animals of war.

The fund had been set up by Our Dumb Friends League, which was the original name for Blue Cross, in the 1912 Balkan War. 

It was quickly reopened again when the First World War broke out and it allowed us to send veterinary supplies to the front line.

When we discovered that the French army was not as well equipped to help horses as the British army, we offered to help and opened our first of several animal hospitals in France. 

Money and goods for the fund came from hundreds of different sources, including the sale of postcards.

By the end of the war in 1918, nearly £170,000 had been raised through the fund to care for animals of war, equivalent to nearly £6.5 million today.

More than 50,000 horses were treated in Blue Cross hospitals in France alone and veterinary supplies were received by more than 3,500 units of the British army.

The importance of the work of the Blue Cross Fund during both World Wars was recognised when we changed our name to The Blue Cross in the 1950s.

We’ve been caring for animals since 1897. Today, our doors remain open to sick, injured and abandoned pets and with your help, they always will be.

With no government funding, we rely on public donations to continue our vital work. 

— Page last updated 18/06/2020