HSI helps more than 1,300 animals in Mexico after first earthquake, while Hurricane Maria scours Caribbean islands
Today, we are consumed with thoughts of anguish and sorrow for the people and animals in a half-dozen nations – for 3.5 million Americans in Puerto Rico; for the already battered people in the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, and other island inhabitants of Caribbean countries; and for the people of Mexico, who’ve now been rocked by a second massive earthquake that has claimed the lives of hundreds of people. The images coming out of Puerto Rico are chilling, with animal shelters destroyed and people and animals in dire circumstances. There’s nothing fair or easily explained about this series of explosively powerful hurricanes and seismic events.
I’ve written recently on the blog about our organizations’ responses in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and in the British Virgin Islands, where two Humane Society International Animal Rescue Team members sheltered in place last night as the Category 5 hurricane rolled over. They wanted to be there to respond immediately once the storm had passed. Before Maria hit, the team managed to evacuate nine dogs from the Humane Society of the British Virgin Islands, which had already been destroyed by the hit from Irma, with no roof and just a few walls standing. The dogs were taken to a local clinic where they could safely ride out the storm. Other team members are ready to dispatch to Puerto Rico as soon as possible.
I also want to tell you about our work in Mexico, where HSI opened an office 18 months ago in Mexico City. HSI’s team there is doing some remarkable, life-saving work, and it’s just today that we can report on it in some detail and convey the scale of the work.
Veterinarians and others on HSI’s team have been working in Juchitán (in the state of Oaxaca) to provide emergency animal rescue and treatment to victims in the wake of the September 7th earthquake. In Juchitán, the team set up an emergency clinic, and provided treatment for 1,350 animals, mainly cats and dogs, and one parrot. The earthquake in Juchitán was a powerful one that left a hundred people dead and thousands of people affected in Oaxaca and the neighboring state of Chiapas. The devastation is felt even more deeply because this is a region that has been prone to natural disasters and where so many residents already live on a knife’s edge.
Some members of HSI’s team are rushing back to Mexico City, after it sustained a 7.1 scale quake there yesterday. There will be an animal toll there to match or exceed the terrible human suffering that the quake produced, with news reports of pets roaming the streets, separated from their families. The team is assessing the need on the ground and will work with local groups and shelters to provide assistance in days to come.
But even amidst all the devastation, we have witnessed a deep expression of the bond between humans and their animals. Dr. Claudia Edwards, program director of HSI/Mexico, who led the veterinary team on the ground, said hundreds of people showed up from afar with injured dogs. Some even brought stray dogs from the area, along with their pets, like Juchito, a stray dog who was severely wounded. He had been suffering silently on the streets until a local child spotted him and brought him into the clinic. Juchito was sent to Oaxaca City for emergency treatment and his health has now stabilized.
Besides the clinic, HSI/Mexico has also helped distribute more than seven tons of animal food collected under the platform Ayudemos a México, reaching more than 2,000 animals.
Hurricane Harvey would have been enough to keep us busy for months. Then Irma hit, followed by Maria. And now two quakes. It’s so much to bear for the tens of millions of people affected.
We have a rich and meaningful set of programs in Puerto Rico, and we are getting the first reports of immense damage and loss. Already, we know that all power has been lost in Puerto Rico. We are thinking about all the people and animals there and in other hard-hit areas. We’ll put the full force of our organizations behind the rescue and relief efforts in coming days.
P.S. Please donate to HSI’s International Disaster Relief Fund to support its lifesaving rescue and relief efforts in response to hurricanes, earthquakes, and all other natural disasters.