Help arrives for Haiti's animals

Animal rescue workers from Humane Society International arrived in Haiti at this hour to help for pets and farm animals that survived the earthquake. Here's their first dispatch:

Humane Society International is now on the scene of this horrific tragedy, moving to provide assistance to animals who may be injured or starving after last week's earthquake, and laying the groundwork for bringing more resources into play where they are needed," said Kelly O'Meara, director of HSI's companion animals division. "HSI expects to deploy additional people and supplies to Port-au-Prince based on our team's assessment."

The HSI/HSUS/HSVMA field responders include a French-speaking veterinarian and a paramedic trained in disaster response and animal handling. The HSI team is working with a group in the Dominican Republic, Veterinary Care & Human Services, Caribbean Project. Two veterinary technicians and a military escort from VCHS will also join the group.

The team will provide immediate animal care as it can, and also assess conditions for animals in Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas. As circumstances permit, the experts will also advise emergency and relief workers on extra steps they might take in the coming days to alleviate the suffering of animals while the desperate work to help the island’s human population continues.     

Dick Green, of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), is helping coordinate operations for the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti, which includes American Humane Association, ASPCA, Humane Society International among others. The IFAW and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) have a staging area in the Dominican Republic and plan to head into Haiti soon to begin delivering food and medicine for livestock.

“We’re already concerned about a possible outbreak of rabies, leptospirosis, or another zoonotic disease," said Ian Robinson, IFAW’s emergency relief director. "We need to set up vaccination and feeding programs as soon as possible. Finally, we need to get acute, critical care to the animals that need it most. There’s a lot to do. More than we can do alone.”

Green told USA Today that helping livestock is the first  priority. "Goats are great producers of milk. We need to get the milk back to the families. Poultry provides eggs. We need to get the hens laying eggs again. Then that helps address human needs. Feed the goat and the humans gain.''