YARMOUTH PORT, MA -- The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) have formally agreed to head up a coalition of groups to address the needs of animals in Haiti following the earthquake that devastated the country.
On January 12, a 7.0 earthquake – the largest in 200 years – rocked the small island nation, reducing buildings to rubble, and demolishing the capital, Port-au-Prince. Tens of thousands of people are feared dead and countries such as the United States have pledged troops and aid to the Caribbean nation. The international response to the devastation has been the largest outpouring of support since Asia’s 2004 tsunami.
In addition to the massive humanitarian crisis, there are an estimated 5 million head of livestock in the country (mostly goats), a large stray dog population, an untold number of companion animals, and native wildlife all adversely affected by the earthquake.
IFAW and WSPA have formally agreed to lead a coalition of animal-related charities to collaborate on all work in Haiti. The belief is that partnering across organizations is the most effective way to address the serious and enormous problems facing animals in Haiti.
“This is a massive challenge and animal non-profits need to cooperate as much as possible,” said Ian Robinson, IFAW’s Emergency Relief Director. “We’re already concerned about a possible outbreak of rabies, leptospirosis, or another zoonotic disease. We need to set up vaccination and feeding programs as soon as possible. Finally, we need to get acute, critical care to the animals that need it most. There’s a lot to do. More than we can do alone.”
Currently, a team is staging in the Dominican Republic waiting to get into Haiti to begin work. IFAW and WSPA have also begun to stock a mobile clinic with vaccines, antibiotics, bandages, food, and other supplies in anticipation of bringing direct aid to animals.
“We’re not certain exactly what we’ll be doing, when we’ll start, or what challenges we’ll face,” said Robinson. “But we know a few things: we’re prepared, we’ve set up a system to work together with other groups, and, given the scale of this disaster, we know we’ll be there a long time.”
About the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) saves animals in crisis around the world. With headquarters in the United States and representation in 15 countries, IFAW and its 1.2 million supporters work passionately to prevent animal suffering.