Your Humane Society International team is often among the first to respond to crises affecting animals around the globe. For the past week we have been on the ground in the south Indian state of Kerala, where the worst floods in more than a century have killed more than 300 people.
During their time on the ground, HSI team members have seen and experienced some of the most heartbreaking stories and also some incredibly inspiring ones. On the one hand, countless animals have, like the people of Kerala, been displaced or drowned in the flooding caused by unusually heavy monsoon rains. On the other, as we have worked to save animals, we have come across stories that demonstrate the deep love people feel for their companion animals as they fight with all they have to keep their animals safe.
Our responders found one woman, Sunitha, who refused to evacuate her home without her dogs. She rebuffed rescuers who told her she could not save the animals, and managed to contact HSI’s team in Kerala who arranged for a local team to rescue her and her dogs. However, when the relief camp refused her entry with her dogs, she returned to her house where HSI is now providing veterinary care, as well as food for her and her dogs.
The responders, who have been operating in Nilambur and Tirur, two of the most devastated communities, face dangerous and treacherous conditions in their work, as the floods continue to submerge homes, and landslides continue to hit the affected areas. But they’ve been pressing on to find animals trapped in the remains of dwellings, often without any hope, and delivering them to safety. For instance, among the animals rescued were two little puppies who were tied up and left behind to drown. The puppies, who we named Wally and Eva, were taken to HSI’s temporary shelter with 17 other rescued dogs.
Our team also saved 20 goats and eight cows left stranded in the floodwaters, and across Kerala the HSI helpline is facilitating the rescue of countless other animals like Kuttus, a dachshund, who was rescued after being trapped in a house, Jack, a dalmatian, who was saved from drowning, and Bailey, an eight-month-old Labrador, who was rescued after repeated attempts over four days by rescuers from the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu.
HSI has been helping animals affected by disasters for many years, and we have years of experience doing this work. Over the last decade and a half, HSI has responded to disasters ranging from an earthquake and a hurricane in Haiti to a tsunami and an earthquake in Japan. Last year, HSI helped more than 6,200 animals affected by deadly earthquakes in Mexico.
Each time our teams follow a clear strategy: getting to the disaster area, making assessments of the work needed, and uniting with local organizations to identify needs on the ground. In most cases, HSI doesn’t just help the animals in immediate need, but makes long-term commitments and investments to strengthen the animal welfare infrastructure in the affected regions.
In Kerala, the HSI team is working with representatives of the Government of Kerala and India’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to locate and rescue animals left behind in the floods and in need of help. HSI is also coordinating with the collector of the districts and government veterinary hospitals to assist and to accommodate animals across Kerala. The team is providing vital medicines, shelter and food for sick and injured animals, and a second team of responders will shortly deploy to the zone, to relieve the first team.
HSI is deploying another team to Coorg in the neighboring state of Karnataka, which has also been ravaged by rains and landslides. Early reports say many animals have been washed away but we are determined to save the ones stranded. You can rest assured that we will not stop until we have saved every animal we can.
You can help us with this important work. Your donations to our international disaster relief fund make it possible for us to train, purchase and maintain necessary equipment and resources, and to deploy rapidly to areas in need. As we fight to bring help to the animals of Kerala, your help can go a long way in ensuring that as many animal lives as possible are saved, now and in future.