Mike Baker of Brooke Hospital named to head WSPA

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2009:
LONDON–Mike Baker, chief executive
officer of the Brooke Hospital for Animals since
June 2001, will in June 2009 succeed Peter
Davies as director general of the World Society
for the Protection of Animals, WSPA announced
on March 6, 2009.
“I hope still to be active in the
movement,” Davies told ANIMAL PEOPLE. WSPA had
announced Davies’ retirement in July 2008.
Davies, previously director general of the Royal
SPCA of Britain, had headed WSPA since mid-2002.
Baker, 44, served as political manager
for the British Union Against Vivisection,
1989-1994, and then headed the BUAV in
1995-1998, after an interlude with Amnesty
International. From November 1998 until Baker
became the Brooke chief executive he was United
Kingdom director for the International Fund for
Animal Welfare.

Founded by Dorothy Brooke in 1934 as The
Old War Horse Hospital, the Brooke at Baker’s
arrival raised about £3 million per year,
supporting Dorothy Brooke’s original equine aid
program in Cairo, plus similar projects
elsewhere in Egypt, Ethiopia, Jordan, India,
and Pakistan.
In addition, since March 2001 the Brooke
had treated the horses and donkeys of Afghan
refugees at camps in Peshwar, Pakistan. Under
Baker, the Brooke followed U.S. troops into
Afghanistan in 2002, and by March 2003 was
operating clinics in both Kabul and Jalalabad.
The Afghan programs reached approximately 130,000
equines in 2008. Also under Baker the Brooke
added programs in Guatemala, Kenya, Nepal,
Palestinian settlements in Israel, and on the
West Bank.
Bringing to the Brooke the aggressive
IFAW approach to fundraising, Baker nearly
doubled fundraising investment in 2005, doubling
revenue by the end of 2006. In November 2006 the
Brooke elected as board president the Duchess of
Cornwall, known as Camila Parker Bowles before
her marriage to Prince Charles. Both are avid
fox hunters, and Charles is also a prolific bird
shooter. The Duchess’ involvement coincided with
a further surge in income. The Brooke raised
nearly £11.1 in fiscal 2007 and slightly more in
fiscal 2008 despite the slowing world economy.
During 2008 the Brooke also extended future
fundraising reach by incorporating a U.S.
affiliate, American Friends of the Brooke.
Baker gained experience with
multi-organization coalitions as chair of the
European Coalition Against Cosmetics Tests on
Animals in both 1993-1994 and 1996-1998. He has
headed Eurogroup for Animals, which lobbies the
European Parliament, since April 2006. Baker is
also on the board of the Marwar Trust, formed in
2003 by Help In Suffering trustee Federico
Spinola to sterilize and vaccinate street dogs in
Jodhpur, India, following the model established
by Help In Suffering in Jaipur and Darjeeling.
ANIMAL PEOPLE asked Baker if he would be
personally willing to endorse, on the record,
the WSPA position statements that “WSPA is
opposed to the taking from the wild of animals
for their fur or skins, and to the farming of
animals for the same purpose,” and that “WSPA is
opposed to the manufacture, sale, possession
and use of any snares and traps which cause
suffering or death….WSPA opposes, on both
ethical and humane grounds, the harassment,
capture or killing of marine mammals for
commercial and sport purposes.”
These were among the first policies
adopted by WSPA after it was formed in 1981 by
merging older organizations which had similar
policies. WSPA board president Dominic
Bellemare, however, has for more than 25 years
been closely associated with Canadian political
factions which favor the fur and sealing
industries. At the time of his election as WSPA
board president, in June 2008, Bellemare was
unsuccessfully seeking a seat in Parliament as a
member of the Conservative Party, headed by
Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper. Harper
has outspokenly promoted the Atlantic Canadian
seal hunt.
Noting that Bellemare has apparently
never spoken out against either fur or sealing,
ANIMAL PEOPLE asked him and all WSPA board
members whether they personally support the WSPA
policies. Only one board member, Blue Cross of
India chief executive Chinny Krishna, was
willing to so state.
“I cannot yet speak on behalf of WSPA,”
Baker said, “as I do not start there for some
months. However, I have no hesitation in fully
endorsing the WSPA policies you quote on a
personal level.”

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