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March 11, 2010

Haiti, Two Months Later

HSI continues to improve the situation for Haiti's animals

Humane Society International

  • We're making a difference for working equines. © HSI

by Chris Broughton-Bossong

In response to the devastating January 12th, 2010 earthquake that struck Haiti, HSI dispatched a number of field assessment and response teams to evaluate and address the needs of animals affected by this disaster and of the people who care for them.

During their time in Haiti, HSI teams were able to directly and immediately effect changes in the lives of the animals there. On numerous occasions we were able to administer preliminary medications and treatments to sickly or injured animals.

During our third team's deployment, under the supervision of Dr. Jay Merriam, we spent several days traveling to remote rural area villages and markets to assess and tend to the medical needs of the working horses and donkeys that people rely upon for their income and subsistence. One day, our presence was requested at an orphanage in Port-au-Prince to evaluate a group of donkeys living there. Within a short time, our team had treated the half dozen adult donkeys for parasites, shown some of the children who resided there how to properly care for the donkeys, and left a supply of fresh hay and new makeshift drinking troughs retrofitted to allow the foals new access to fresh drinking water.

The expressions of encouragement and appreciation we received as we showed the children at the orphanage the simple steps they could take to improve the lives of the animals in their care were wonderfully uplifting and inspiring. There is still a tremendous need in Haiti for both human and animal aid and relief. As rewarding as these individual encounters are, they merely scrape the surface of the needs that exist and it will be some time before our efforts cease.

HSI is now transitioning its focus from direct field response to long-term program implementation. We are currently working to launch a number of programs in conjunction with our partners, Christian Veterinary Mission and Veterinary Care and Human Services, that will work towards:

  • street dog welfare and population control,
  • ongoing rabies vaccination,
  • working equine veterinary care clinics,
  • disaster medical response training of local vets,
  • improving the accessibility of animal care supplies, medications and equipment and
  • the establishment of the first animal care center in the country.

We will be maintaining a long-term presence in Haiti and working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and NGOs alike to facilitate the groundwork for improvements of the lives of the animals in the country.

Chris Broughton-Bossong is an HSI Disaster Certified Responder and vet tech.

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