Today, our thoughts, more than ever, extend outward. The devastation wrought by Typhoon Yolanda (also known as Typhoon Haiyan) in the Philippines, a longtime American protectorate and sovereign ally, is in the early stages of assessment, but it is massive and life-changing for perhaps millions of people and for countless animals.
Humane Society International has staff members based in the Philippines as part of our worldwide street dog campaign, and they’re already on the ground in the areas hardest hit, working to identify the most urgent needs of animals and building a team and a strategy, in concert with the government and with other animal welfare agencies. The tsunami in Japan, the earthquake in Haiti, and the Katrina and Sandy emergencies in the United States come to mind when we think of Typhoon Yolanda and its scale and devastation. We need to respond to this tragedy, just as we did with the others. We’ll be asking for your support during this great time of need.
A cow stands among debris left by Typhoon Yolanda in
Of course, this is Veterans Day, 2013, too, and our thoughts are also with our nation’s millions of service members, past and present. The HSUS has many military veterans among its supporters, and we’ve seen staff colleagues and family members called to active duty during the last decade, so we’re always mindful of the risk and the honor that comes with military service. Both current and past members of the armed services play a role in keeping us aware of animal-related concerns on American military bases, and in foreign theaters of action. They are our allies in the army of the kind, and we are grateful for their dedication to animals in need, just as we are grateful for their tremendous devotion to the United States of America.
Animals are veterans, too. So many dogs, horses and other creatures have provided so much in the way of service to our country. And there is a special bond between our human veterans and our animal veterans. In recent years, we’ve supported the Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act and other measures designed to strengthen programs devoted to animal-assisted therapy for veterans, programs like the one carried out at the Warrior Canine Connection. Some of the most poignant stories I’ve read in recent years have focused on the bonds between service members and companion animals. Such programs bring benefits to people and to animals, and we want to see them flourish in the years ahead.
It’s no irony that some of the first responders in the Philippines will be our military service members. Today, we salute them, and we hope that responders in the Philippines can bring relief during this time of loss and remarkable disruption for so many. We also hope that the victims can draw strength from the knowledge that so many of us are thinking about them and organizing to help them in the days, weeks and months ahead.