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February 3, 2010 > Ohlone Humane Society: Haiti's voiceless victims

Ohlone Humane Society: Haiti's voiceless victims

By Nancy Lyon

On January 12, 2010, the world rocked as a massive earthquake in Haiti wreaked unthinkable disaster on the island nation. Close to 250,000 human beings are estimated to have been killed with thousands trapped in the immense destruction that once was Port-au-Prince.

While the world has drawn together offering great support to help alleviate the immense suffering of the human population, others are at work tackling the misery of the earthquake's other victims... Haiti's animals. Undoubtedly they too are suffering and in pain, starving, traumatized and desperately in need of help. When disasters occur their plight is often the last to be addressed, their suffering the last to be relieved.

This has not been the case in Haiti. Almost immediately after the devastating earthquake a coalition of international animal welfare organizations joined forces to create ARCH - the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti. Their goal is to raise funds for direct aide to animals with coalition teams gathering in Haiti to address the tragic impact on animal residents once human relief and security measures are in place. ARCH stated that the team is committed to help the animals despite the many dangers that exist in the quake-ravaged remains of the city and beyond.

Headed by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the World Society for the Protections of Animals (WSPA), the team currently includes the ASPCA, American Humane Association, Humane Society International, United Animal Nations (UAN), Kinship Circle and Best Friends Animal Society with others joining to lend assistance.

A report from IFAW chronicles the immensity of the tragedy... "We are headed to the city center. Among the collapsed buildings we spotted several dogs and cats all looking for food, asking for comfort. They all look pretty under-nourished; many were exhibiting signs of disease or injury. Many were traumatized and moved away from us, but when we could, the vets provided initial care.

"Walking among the wreckage and misery that is Port-au-Prince is nothing one can get used to. Coming back to our base at night, we were inspired by a mass prayer ceremony held at one of the 'tent cities.' Haitians were dancing and singing, desperately trying to find the peace and strength to carry on. An entire country is in pain, it's visible and palpable everywhere you go. Thanks to our supporters, we are here, now, to lend a hand, to assist both humans and animals and bring relief to Haiti."

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has stated that there are an estimated 5 million farmed animals, mostly goats, a large stray dog population, and an untold number of companion animals and native wildlife all adversely affected by the earthquake... all in desperate need of help. With the urgent need to take action, experts trained in animal emergency response gathered almost immediately in the Dominican Republic waiting to get into Haiti to begin work. The mobile unit of IFAW and WSPA started stockpiling vaccines, antibiotics, bandages, food and other supplies in anticipation of bringing direct aid to animals with more needed.

These survival supplies - water, food and medical supplies for the animals are to be used to stock the mobile veterinary clinic donated by the Antigua and Barbuda Humane Society. The mobile clinic will continue to treat injured companion animals, farmed and wild animals, and will also vaccinate them to ward off outbreaks of disease.

Teams of veterinary and disaster relief responders have been scouring the countryside feeding stray dogs, and checking on the welfare of farmed animals and animals trapped in zoos. They continue to work tirelessly to reunite evacuees with their lost animals. As with the human tragedy, the work is far from finished. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is sending in a second-wave team of responders to work on a long-term program to vaccinate dogs and cats against rabies, a major concern of developing countries after disasters, and address both animal health and human health.

Donations are urgently needed to help ARCH's emergency relief team in their Haiti mission of compassion. Your contribution will help buy much needed bandages, vaccines, antibiotics and other supplies as their mobile veterinary clinic continues to search the immediate quake area and outlaying regions looking for the voiceless victims of the devastation.

Please help! Every donation, no matter the size, will help stem the appalling human and non-human misery:

* The American Red Cross is accepting donations by phone. You can text "HAITI" to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross's efforts, or call 1-800-Redcross or 1-800-257-7575.
* Interaction, the largest coalition of U.S.-based NGOs focused on the world's poor, has set up a Haiti relief donation page, listing several participating organizations where you can donate. - http://www.interaction.org/.
* UNICEF is also accepting donations for the relief efforts in Haiti and the Caribbean region. Visit their website http://www.unicef.org/ or call 1-800-4UNICEF to donate.
* The international effort, headed by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) http://www.ifaw.org/ and the World Society for the Protections of Animals (WSPA) http://www.wspa-usa.org/ needs your assistance.

If you would like to help, call or visit their websites.

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