Friday, January 15, 2010

Rescue Efforts in Haiti

Most of us have heard by now that a devastating earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter Scale struck Haiti this past Tuesday, causing massive damage to the area. Haiti’s already poor infrastructure is making rescue efforts almost impossible. The airport is damaged, the seaport is damaged, and roads are destroyed, making transporting supplies very difficult. So unfortunately, with humanitarian efforts struggling to arrive, it will be weeks until aid arrives for the animal victims.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has the following information posted today: "AVMA is closely monitoring the early response in Haiti to determine if and how we and others involved in animal welfare and health may assist in the Haiti response and recovery efforts. As always with disasters like this, the humanitarian rescue efforts will be the focus in Haiti for the first week or so. However, veterinarians are on standby to assist with the tragedy." It adds, "Once the immediate human needs have been met, the AVMA is ready to address the animal issues in any way we can."

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is on alert, noting that “humanitarian efforts need to be well underway before animal rescue efforts can begin in earnest." Together, IFAW and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) will be working on the ground to help the animals in Haiti. They have developed the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH) to assist in the response efforts. Their teams will be working out of a mobile clinic which has been donated to them by the Antigua and Barbuda Humane Society. WSPA and IFAW have pledged funds to fully outfit this mobile clinic, and it will be shipped from Antigua to our member society, Sociedad Dominicana Para la Protección de Animales (SODOPRECA), in the Dominican Republic for them to drive across the border into Haiti.

Again, once human relief has taken hold in Haiti, then teams such as IFAW and WSPA will be able to aid the suffering of the country’s animals. Fermathe, Haiti, is home to a zoo that housed monkeys, snakes, alligators, and exotic birds. Haiti is also home to several endangered animals, according to the organization Animal Info. These include the critically endangered Puerto Rican Hutia, the endangered Haitian Solenodon, and the "vulnerable" manatee and Hispaniolan Hutia.

As for humanitarian aid, international individual financial donations are totaling in the millions. Many are choosing to donate via text message: Texting the word "Haiti" to 90999 sends a $10 donation to the Red Cross. Those $10 donations are adding up. As of Friday morning, more than $8 million dollars had been contributed to the Red Cross via text-messaging alone. Reuters reports that the U.S. texting donations have made for "an unprecedented mobile response to a natural disaster." Of course, you can also donate via the Web.

The Red Cross isn't the only organization to receive generous contributions. Yele Haiti, a grassroots organization started by rapper and Haiti native Wyclef Jean, is also accepting donations via text message. Texting "Yele" to 501501 makes a $5 contribution. Wyclef has also traveled to Haiti, where he is personally helping with rescue efforts.

As we learn more information about the relief efforts in Haiti, we will update you. For now, please keep Haiti’s people and its animals in your mind and donate what you can. Every little bit helps!

Please check out Animal Balance, a non-profit organization of veterinarians, veterinary technicians, assistants and volunteers. They come together to create MASH-style sterilization clinics on islands around the world. They currently have approximately 400 people on their database. Sociedad Dominicana Para la Protección de Animales (SODOPRECA), in the Dominican Republic, is one of their clinics and as mentioned above, are providing the larger animal welfare groups with mobile clinics to drive across the border to Haiti.

To Assist Animal Balance (www.animalbalance.net) and help with the relief effort for animals in Haiti, please contact: Marcos A. Polanco of Sociedad Dominicana para la Prevención de Crueldad a los Animales (SODOPRECA) - www.sodopreca.com
San Juan Bautista De La Salle #132 Mirado Norte, Sto. Dgo. R.D.
Tel. (809) 599-4363; Email: marcospolanco@sodopreca.org; SKYPE: Marco Polanco
**Please note: www.animalbalance.net is in English and www.sodopreca.com is in Spanish)**

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