Thousands of animals in urgent need of help after deadly volcano erupts in Guatemala

06 June 2018

World Animal Protection teams race to save animals

World Animal Protection teams race to save animals

Image: AP Photo / Luis Soto

Thousands of animals including cattle, pigs, horses and chickens will struggle to survive after the eruption of Volcán de Fuego (Volcano of Fire) in Central America on Sunday (3 June), 27 miles from Guatemala City, where residents are dependent on animals for their livelihoods.

The explosion produced a river of red-hot lava and thick clouds of smoke nearly six miles into the air, leaving villages on the slopes buried under the volcanic ash and mud. As many as 200 people are missing and an estimated 75 are dead. These devastating numbers do not include the countless animals and livestock who will have also perished.

International and local response units have not been able to reach many villages due to safety and risks of secondary eruptions. Although initial reports indicate many people and rescue units are taking animals to shelters. It is as yet unknown how many pets and farm animals have been affected.

World Animal Protection is now on the ground working through our local disaster liaison officer, Mr Mario Sapón and volunteers from Equino Sano Foundation. They will visit shelters to organise teams of vets to help animals and render assistance as needed. This will include emergency food, medications and temporary shelters for pets and poultry. Once the affected areas are safe to travel, the charity will then provide help to livestock including cattle, horses and pigs.

Gerardo Huertas, Global Director of Disaster Management at World Animal Protection says: 

“Seeing the impact of the volcano here is devastating. The government and humanitarian agencies are doing a fantastic job. Right now, our work is to help those animals in dire need; injured, without food or water and at high risk of disease. Our aim is to help those who are in shelters first and once safe to do so race to those who have been left behind.

“Local communities who have survived this catastrophe will only suffer more, if they have no animals or livestock to help them long after the aid has gone, with their livelihoods, transport and food.”

World Animal Protection teams will provide:

·         Immediate assessment by visiting shelters where people have fled with their animals

·         Assistance to animals injured and meeting basic needs for survival

·         Provide emergency vet kit items for animals in disaster zones, once safe to do so, which will include dressings and treatment for wounded animals, treatment of diarrhoea, pneumonia and other diseases

·         Assess the wider and longer-term needs for the animals in partnership with the government.

While disaster response rightly prioritizes people’s immediate needs, the long-term recovery from disasters is inextricably linked with the well-being of their animals. Communities in this area heavily rely on agriculture to make ends meet and in this critical stage, the recovery from the volcanic eruption by saving animals will provide stability for their future.

ENDS

Notes to editors

·         For more information, photos and videos or to arrange an interview please Jonaid Jilani on 0207 239 0673 or email jonaidjilani@worldanimalprotection.org

·         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.

 

Gerardo Huertas, Global Director of Disaster Management at World Animal Protection says:  “Seeing the impact of the volcano here is devastating. The government and humanitarian agencies are doing a fantastic job. Right now, our work is to help those animals in dire need; injured, without food or water and at high risk of disease. Our aim is to help those who are in shelters first and once safe to do so race to those who have been left behind. “Local communities who have survived this catastrophe will only suffer more, if they have no animals or livestock to help them long after the aid has gone, with their livelihoods, transport and food.”

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