Animals in Barbuda fight to survive amongst Hurricane Irma’s destruction
In the wake of Hurricane Irma, the situation for animals on the tiny Caribbean island of Barbuda is dire. We’re working with local vets and organisations in the meantime, as we urgently try to get there
We are deploying our disaster response teams to help animals affected by Hurricane Irma – the strongest Atlantic hurricane in history.
Determined to reach them
Getting to the worst affected animals is extremely challenging, as flights in the region have been cancelled. One of our disaster response teams is currently stuck in transit in San Juan, Puerto Rico trying to reach the small dual-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, and another is on the way to St. Maarten via Jamaica.
The team on its way to St. Maarten has arrived in Jamaica, where it is picking up vital supplies and members of our partner organisation Jamaican Society for Protection of Animals (JSPCA). They will travel onwards to St. Maarten together, as soon as possible.
Also, in the meantime, we're working with our networks of local vets and animal welfare groups in several locations to provide vet care to injured and weak animals.
Animals are desperate
Hurricane Irma has left Barbuda in ruins. Our teams are liaising with our local partner Karen Corbin, executive director and president of Antigua and Barbuda Humane Society.
"Barbuda was completely destroyed," Karen says. "All the people were evacuated to Antigua and the animals are alone. There are dead animals everywhere and the smell is overpowering. I saw dogs and pigs starting to act feral and threaten other animals."
"I saw a lot of baby goats and sheep and they are foraging along with horses and donkeys what little grass is left. I'm worried that the dogs and even pigs will start hunting or harassing the farm animals. We need to get in there and separate the dogs first – put them somewhere as a temporary shelter and feed them.
"Then we need to think of how to help the farm livestock, whether it's food, emergency veterinary care or shelter. This is a long-term project – the animal needs cannot be overstated."
We are doing all we can to join Karen and her team as soon as possible, and deliver desperately needed aid to vulnerable, distressed animals.
"In my time working in disaster response, I’ve never seen anything like it," says Scott Cantin, from our disaster management team.
"An abandoned island full of animals roaming on their own. I can only imagine the anguish of the owners forced to leave their animals behind and the confusion and fear of the animals themselves. Help is on the way."
A history of helping animals in the Caribbean
Thanks to the ongoing support of people like you, over the past decade we’ve helped thousands of Caribbean animals. We treated donkeys in the Turks and Caicos Islands following Hurricane Ike and provided emergency care and food to around 110,000 sick and displaced animals following Hurricane Matthew.
Through 250 disaster responses over 50 years, we have helped more than 7 million animals around the world.
Your support could help save scared and starving animals in Barbuda and other hurricane-ravaged islands. It’s a race against the clock but, together, we can help them through the worst.