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September 21, 2010

HSI Responds to Floods in Mexico

Humane Society International

  • Up to his belly in water. Kerri Burns

  • Hungry. Kerri Burns

  • Up out of the water. Kerri Burns

  • Taking care. Kerri Burns

  • Carrying friends to safety. Monica Pineda

  • Animals here and there. Kerri Burns

  • Tied and submerged. Kerri Burns

  • High-tech rescue. Monica Pineda

  • Grazing after the flood. Kelly Coladarci

by Alexandra Rothlisberger

With some southern Mexican states already under water prior to the official start of the rainy season, HSI is on the ground in Puerto de Veracruz to help people and their animals stranded by the flooding.

The situation

The areas affected—Veracruz, Tabasco, Oaxaca and Chiapas—have suffered similar crises before and residents are familiar with evacuation procedures, though they usually occur post-flooding only. So far, there have been very few fatalities.

Many families have abandoned their homes; we’ve learned that most of those who stayed did so to protect their companion animals rather than leave them behind. The Mexican government's disaster response plan does not include animals, and the result is dogs and cats trapped on rooftops for days on end without food or clean water, in temperatures that climb well above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Rescue operations organized by locals have reached some animals, including donkeys and piglets, but an overwhelming number of dogs are trapped in waterways with currents so strong that one rescue boat broke in half.

HSI is working with Mexican groups and government authorities to assess the needs of hundreds of stranded animals. While many have been reached and returned to their owners, many more still need food and water and most of all, to be rescued.

We will brave the water to assist animals in distress.

Alexandra Rothlisberger is Program Manager, Latin America & Caribbean for Humane Society International.