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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Great post from Paw Nation!

Last week's 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti caused severe damage and unthinkable loss of life, and as with Hurricane Katrina and other large-scale disasters, animal-lovers the world over have been left wondering about the fates of Haiti's companion animals and pets.

Humane Society International has already dispatched a team of vets to Port-au-Prince, and is partnering with Veterinary Care & Humane Services, Caribbean Project, a group in the Dominican Republic. The team includes a French-speaking veterinarian and a paramedic trained in disaster response and animal handling, along with veterinary technicians and a translator.

According to the Humane Society's Web site, "The team will provide immediate animal care as it can, and also assess conditions for animals in the capitol city and surrounding areas. As circumstances permit, our experts will also advise emergency and relief workers on extra steps they might take in the coming days to alleviate the suffering of animals while the desperate work to help the island's human population continues."

Best Friends, one of the largest no-kill shelters in the United States, has assisted in such natural disasters as hurricanes Katrina, Ike, and Gustav; floods in Mexico and Iowa; earthquakes in Peru; and the airlifting of dogs from the war zone in Lebanon. In response to the earthquake, the organization has posted the following message on their Web site:

"Best Friends is prepared to help, but our involvement will depend on information as it becomes available. Given the complete collapse of infrastructure in Haiti, transportation problems, and little or no telephone service, any animal rescue operation would be fraught with difficulties, as well as potentially dangerous for the personnel involved.

Each of us can help now, however. The International Fund for Animal Welfare has established a Haiti Emergency Relief Response Fund. From their Web site: "We urgently need your donation to help IFAW's emergency relief team prepare for our Haiti relief mission. Your donation will help us buy the bandages, vaccines, antibiotics and other supplies for our mobile veterinary clinic. We have partnered with WSPA to mount a coordinated animal relief response, and our team will deploy into the devastated country as soon as human relief efforts have taken hold and security is in place."

It remains to be seen how much any of these groups will be able to do on the ground in Haiti. Relief workers have faced serious challenges getting even basic supplies to people due to blocked roads and the one runway airport in Port-au-Prince. But we hope emergency care will increasingly become available to all Haitians, human and animal alike.