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Animal charity's Afghan ad banned

An ad for an animal protection charity working in Afghanistan has been banned for suggesting donations ultimately benefited British troops, a watchdog has said.

The campaign for the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (Spana) promoted its work treating livestock belonging to farmers in Helmand province, claiming that those who lost their animals and therefore their livelihood were more likely to be drawn into conflict.

The ad's headline read, "Saving her life means his just got easier", followed by a photo of an Afghan man, a donkey and a British soldier.

The ad continued: "To many farming families in Afghanistan, the well-being of their animals can be the difference between life and death. Desperation is what fuels this war and the simple act of helping their donkey can help prevent entire families from being drawn into this terrible conflict.

"Hearts and minds can be won over by simple, practical help. Spana provides veterinary care and training which helps local people to look after their livestock. Ultimately, our brave British servicemen and women can benefit from the care which you help us provide."

Two people questioned if the claims could be substantiated and complained that it was offensive and exploited British troops to get donations.

Spana said it had been asked to expand a small-scale veterinary programme started by the Royal Army Veterinary Corps in 2009 to treat livestock belonging to rural farmers in Helmand.

The programme was part of a wider initiative to win over local farmers in an attempt to make them less susceptible to the influence of the Taliban, the organisation added.

It believed its support was therefore clearly of benefit to British troops, and said the Ministry of Defence had agreed to the ad before it was published.

The Advertising Standards Authority said the ad suggested that any money donated to the project would directly help British forces.

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