The American Fondouk was founded in 1927 at the behest of Amy Bend Bishop, an American traveler who was distressed by the poor conditions of the many working animals in Fez Medina. At the time, there were 40,000 pack animals living in and around Fez. As in any country dependent on subsistence agriculture, Morocco’s draft and pack animals were worked hard by owners who were often poor and uneducated. The animals needed good veterinary care, improved husbandry and nutrition, and humane handling – both for their own sake and for the sake of the families who depended on their labor. Upon her return to the U.S., Mrs. Bishop contributed $8,000 in memory of her mother as seed money to build a refuge for these animals. With this donation, some hard work, and the help of a few dedicated friends, the American Fondouk was established.
Mrs. Bishop urged her friends, Dr. Francis Rowley, then President of the MSPCA, and Sydney Coleman, a prominent New York animal activist, to build a refuge for the animals of Morocco. Respectively, Dr. Rowley and Mr. Coleman served as the first and second presidents of the Fondouk, bringing aid to thousands of desperate animals in Morocco. Years later, Sydney’s grandson, Bob Coleman, would take the helm as today’s Fondouk president.
Since the beginning, the MSPCA has overseen both the endowment and the operations of the Fondouk, taking the unique mission of the Fondouk to heart and making it an important part of their own international humane animal outreach.
Three-quarters of a century later, modern-day Morocco is a developing nation, but many of its people are still poor. In a country where there is just one doctor for every 2,000 humans, it is tempting to view veterinary care as a luxury. But the economic health of the community rides, quite literally, on the backs of its working animals, and often on the Fondouk’s programs.
The American Fondouk provides the residents of Fez, Medina a full-service animal hospital, treating thousands of animals annually. The hospital is staffed with two resident veterinarians, a blacksmith, and 8 other employees. An onsite laboratory helps with diagnosis and a small surgical facility handles routine procedures. With limited resources and an endless need, contributions of any size make a tremendous difference in the Fondouk’s ability to treat the maximum number of animals in need of care.
The American Fondouk continues to be a charitable veterinary hospital, providing free treatment for thousands of animals each year.