HSI responds to earthquake relief efforts in haiti
Improving Animals' Lives Following the Haiti Earthquake.
This update gives a detailed run-down of our response in Haiti.
- the shipment and distribution of food and supplies necessary to keep animals alive and healthy
- financial and practical support for Haiti's crucial rabies vaccination program
- ongoing direct animal care and treatment in Haiti
- a rural spaying and neutering program with Christian Veterinary Mission
- collaboration in equine care and welfare workshops
- disaster preparedness training for Haitian veterinary personnel
- the creation of a basic animal care infrastructure or animal services clinic
- a program of improved care for captive animals in zoos, and
- the hiring of veterinary personnel to staff and manage funded initiatives.
The basic challenge is one of helping animals in an impoverished nation scarred by one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the western hemisphere. In virtually every instance, those responding to animals in disaster must carry out their work with deference to the urgent human needs of the unfolding catastrophe.
In the earthquake's aftermath, there has been one searing reality confronting our response team. The troubles of animals have paled by comparison with the staggering toll of death, suffering, and loss toHaiti's human population. Several hundred thousand Haitians are dead, and thousands more are dying from wounds, injuries, and infection. Several million are homeless, displaced, and destitute. One hundred thousand may be disabled, in a nation with no prosthetics. Tens of thousands have been orphaned, in a nation where there were too many orphans before.
The Haitian earthquake was not like Hurricane Katrina, with time ticking away against the minutes and hours of the lives of thousands of pets stranded in homes and buildings throughout the strike zone in Louisiana and Mississippi. And Haiti was not the United States, with an emergency response infrastructure ready to accommodate the efforts of those who wanted to help animals.
Haiti was, instead, what it has been for a long time, an impoverished and underdeveloped nation, with different styles of pet keeping, traditional forms of subsistence agriculture incorporating animals, and a heavy reliance on horses and donkeys as beasts of burden. Before the earthquake, its animal welfare problems, grave as they were, did not greatly differ from those of dozens of nations around the world in which compassion and resources are not yet sufficient to reach the plight and the needs of suffering or neglected animals. Now, the earthquake has put a spotlight on these problems.
The fact that animals have been more or less badly off in Haiti for some time, however, does not mean that nothing can be accomplished for them now or ever. In this respect, the earthquake has done for animals what Katrina did for animals in the Gulf Coast. Just as the 2005 hurricane revealed some of the basic animal welfare deficits in the humane infrastructure of the Gulf Coast states, the 2010 earthquake has underscored the paucity and fragility of animal welfare resources in Haiti.
Healed in Haiti - A "Tail" of compassion
August 15 2011 click here
Thursday 4th February 2010
Our responders will debrief on the long ride home. Their appraisal of animal welfare concerns will shapeour broader organizational response in the days and weeks to come. Veterinary Care and Human Service of the Dominican Republic, and Christian Veterinary Mission, will continue to provide immediate care and assistance in Haiti, while HSI/HSUS/HSVMA organizes the next phase of our response to the animal welfare challenges of the earthquake's aftermath.
The team has noticed a significant rise in evacuation of citizens from Port-au-Prince to the surrounding countryside, with horses and donkeys being used to transport people and their belongings. The overloading and overworking of such animals has become an immediate problem, and HSI will make their welfare a high priority in the days ahead, for these equines are playing an essential role in the lives of ordinary Haitians trying to save themselves and their families.
The team has also forged a friendly relationship with personnel from the Christian Veterinary Mission (CVM), which has a longstanding presence in Haiti and other developing nations. Together with representatives from CVM, the HSI team will confer with officials of Haiti's Ministry of Agriculture about the most urgent animal welfare priorities stemming from the crisis.
Finally, a large part of the city population is now making its way to the countryside, with horses and donkeys being used as transport. We are monitoring the health and welfare of these animals closely.
HSI and CVM have a joint meeting scheduled today with the Ministry of Agriculture, the ministry with responsibility for all animals in Haiti. There, we will discuss what the ministry believes we can do to assist further now and in the long term.
On Friday the team traveled to a site where tent cities had been set up and found many more dogs wandering around the area. Aside from being hungry, the animals encountered there seemed to be in OK condition, but starvation, dehydration and disease remain threats' especially to the injured.
Our vet Rebecca, paramedic Lloyd and the rest of our group attempted to get to the U.S. Embassy, but the lines were so long they gave up temporarily. They did attend a meeting of Interaction, a coalition of non-governmental organizations of which HSI is a member, where security issues were discussed. Rebecca reported, ' The local people are amazing! In spite of the horror surrounding them, their hospitality goes above and beyond. Some won't accept gifts because we are helping their country.'
In a late-evening report from the team, we learned that after assessing conditions at the zoo, responders visited a town outside of Port-au-Prince called Croix-des-Bouquets to check on the farm animal situation. There, they saw goats, chickens and horses. All appeared okay, but many structures for housing animals were in ruin throughout the area. Our responders plan to visit another town about two hours outside of Port-au-Prince called Leogane to check on farm animals there as well.
Meanwhile, doctors from a New York hospital working on the ground in Haiti have asked for our team's help in reviewing the human situation in these outer towns as well, since many of the humanitarian groups don't have vehicles or access out of Port-au-Prince such as we have managed to obtain. Some believe there may still be people' alive' buried under the rubble in these smaller towns.
Finally, our team plans to explore the rumor that dogs are eating human cadavers. The local people have heard talk of this and will guide them to the location where it is said to be happening.
We've discovered that we are one of the better-prepared groups on the ground in Port-au-Prince, so we have been working with humanitarian and other organizations to provide supplies and conduct assessments in outer areas. This morning our responders provided medical supplies to doctors working in the capital, and then headed out to the Quiskeya University to check out reports of large numbers of animals on site. The Metro Boston disaster medical assistance team stationed there helped us conduct an assessment of the area. Fortunately, we encountered no injured animals.
Afterwards we left for Leogane, an area considered one of the worst affected in the country. After viewing the devastation' building flattened, many people dead and displaced' we agree that it could possibly be in worse shape than Port-au-Prince. We spoke with farmers there and discovered that their horses and cattle had survived the earthquake in pretty good shape, but there were concerns about the effect of the disaster on their health, energy, and milk production going forward. We're exploring the possibilities for a long-term husbandry project in this region.
"Humane Society International is now on the scene of this horrific tragedy, moving to provide assistance to animals who may be injured or starving after last week's earthquake, and laying the groundwork for bringing more resources into play where they are needed," said Kelly O'Meara, director of HSI's companion animals division. "HSI expects to deploy additional people and supplies to Port-au-Prince based on our team's assessment."
The HSI/HSUS/HSVMA field responders include a French-speaking veterinarian and a paramedic trained in disaster response and animal handling. The HSI team is working with a group in the Dominican Republic, Veterinary Care & Human Services, Caribbean Project. Two veterinary technicians and a military escort from VCHS will also join the group.
The team will provide immediate animal care as it can, and also assess conditions for animals in Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas. As circumstances permit, the 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.
Our field team includes a French-speaking veterinarian and a paramedic trained in disaster response and animal handling. They will be accompanied by two veterinary technicians from VCHS and a translator.
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 people of Haiti continues.
And as with any disaster of this magnitude, animals are also suffering and in dire need of care. To try to help these animals, here is what our international colleagues in HSI are doing right now:
- Working with Sociedad Dominicana para la PrevenciÃ³n de Crueldad a los Animales, which is based in the Dominican Republic and has offered to get a team of animal responders and veterinarians into Haiti;
- Sending a veterinarian trained in disaster response associated with our partner organization, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, to the Dominican Republic to spearhead our assessment;
- Joined the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti, and will be working with the World Society for the Protection of Animals, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and other partner groups on a coordinated response to this crisis;
- Communicated with humanitarian relief agencies and are poised to address the security, transportation, housing, and supply challenges that accompany deployment.
As you read this, we remain uncertain about how we will be able to respond to the crisis in Haiti, but I can tell you that we will do everything we can to help that country's people and animals in the coming days.
Haiti's earthquake has devastated the capital, Port-au-Prince and left tens of thousands of people dead or seriously injured. The final death toll from the 7.0 quake could be well over 100,000 according to Haitian Prime Minister, with an international aid effort now in a race against time to pull survivors from the ruins.
HSI extends its deepest sympathies to the victims and their families of the earthquake. Our thoughts are with all Haitians during this difficult time.
The animal victims of this disaster will need our help. HSI Australia is liaising with our international colleagues to see how our Disaster Relief team can be mobilised to help the domestic animals and wildlife affected by this tragedy. Our international colleagues are also liaising closely with emergency relief officials from international agencies and the Haitian government so we can be ready to step in as required.