Help has arrived for animals suffering after devastating mudslides in Sierra Leone
A team of veterinarians race in to save animals’ lives
Thousands of dogs are seriously affected in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone after devastating floods ravaged the city, killing over 300 people and making 2000 families homeless.
International charity, World Animal Protection is working closely with the National Welfare and Rabies Control Task Force on the ground to relieve the suffering of animals in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The team is organising and leading mobile veterinary response teams and distributing emergency vet kits.
Many of the dogs the taskforce is treating are deeply traumatised, some in shock and injured with broken limbs causing extreme pain. So far, local efforts have focused on the humanitarian crisis and veterinarians are in the disaster zone focusing on providing food and medical treatment for the animals in addition to preventing diseases, such as rabies, which is endemic in Sierra Leone.
As far as we know, the country has just four active vets and supplies of veterinary equipment and medicine is very limited, leaving animals in Sierra Leone vulnerable - thousands of dogs are fending for themselves on the streets of Freetown after 10 years of civil war and the Ebola crisis.
Tennyson Williams, Africa Director at World Animal Protection, said: “Before this disaster the stray dog situation was already at breaking point. The terrible mudslides over the last week have turned the situation from bad to worse.
“These dogs are in dire need; injured, starving and at high risk of disease. We’re also very concerned that rabies could begin to spread rapidly. The National Welfare and Rabies Control Taskforce is doing everything they can to vaccinate as many dogs as possible.”
The team of veterinarians in Freetown will:
· provide immediate assistance to animals on the ground, injured from the mudslides and meeting basic needs for survival.
· provide emergency vet kit items which will include dressings and treatment for wounded animals and vaccinations against rabies.
· assess the wider and longer term needs for the animals in partnership with the government
Notes to editors
· The National Welfare and Rabies control taskforce (NLAWRCT) is a national taskforce that is mandated to work in the area of animal welfare legislation & policy and tasked with leading the development of the Sierra Leone national rabies elimination and dog population management plan. It is embedded in the National Livestock Policy Hub within the livestock/ veterinary services division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and food security. Within this larger taskforce is a Rabies Working Group (RWG) who are the main drivers of the process.
The Taskforce is made up of members from the ministries of Agriculture, Health, Animal welfare organizations, Academia (universities), the Freetown city council, the police force, civil society & Media and other INGO’s.
· Emergency Vet Kit items for this work are focused on rabies vaccinations, wound dressings and treatment for wounded animals, treatment of diarrhoea, pneumonia and other potential post flood disease. Within the kits will be the following, though not limited to this list: Dewormer, Pain Relief Medicine, Broad spectrum Antibiotic, Lidocaine, Eye Drops,Wound Spray and antiseptic. Feed will be included in the emergency vet kits but quantity and ratio is TBD.
· About 1 billion of the world’s poorest people rely on horses, livestock and other animals for food, transport and their livelihoods. Domestic animals play their part too, providing valued companionship.
· World Animal Protection has been working actively with governments, communities and individuals in disaster management since 1964. Out of 250 pieces of disaster response work across 50 years, we have provided aid to over 7 million animals.
Image copyright AFP PHOTO/SEYLLOU