In the days following the calamitous magnitude 7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti five years ago this week, HSI was the first animal welfare organization to send in a response team, providing desperately needed veterinary attention, feed and other supplies, and helping evacuating families to make arrangements for their pets.
We’ve been there ever since.
Haiti has traditionally had different styles of pet keeping, forms of subsistence agriculture involving animals, and a heavy reliance on horses and donkeys as beasts of burden. Before the earthquake, it didn’t differ greatly from those of dozens of other countries around the world where compassionate focus and resources are not yet sufficient to meet the needs of suffering or neglected animals. The disaster highlighted these problems.
The generosity of our supporters set the stage for the substantial improvement of animal care in a reconstructed Haiti, and we’ve been able to make a real difference. To date, we’ve been able to provide or implement:
- Financial and practical support for Haiti’s crucial rabies vaccination program
- Ongoing direct animal care and treatment
- A rural spay/neuter program
- Collaboration on equine care and welfare workshops
- Disaster preparedness training for Haitian veterinary personnel
- A basic animal care infrastructure, including a first-of-its-kind animal services clinic
- A program of improved care for captive animals in zoos, and
- Veterinary personnel —trained locals—to staff and manage funded initiatives.
Among our most recent accomplishments:
- HSI is the only companion animal outreach group operating community-based veterinary medical care clinics throughout Port-au-Prince. Our veterinary team treated 20,139 animals in 2014, including dogs, cats, horses and farm animals. They delivered preventive health services including vaccines for rabies, Newcastle Disease, hog cholera and anthrax.
- Our partnership with the UK-based World Horse Welfare educates owners about how best to care for the animals who play such an important role in agriculture and transport.
- HSI-developed humane education modules focusing on animal welfare and bite prevention went to approximately 900 teachers from 89 schools, who will reach as many as 50,000 students.
Our role in Haiti has been to empower Haitians to strengthen the level of compassion and care provided to the animals within their reach, and to help them secure the resources needed to maintain it. By improving life for working equids and livestock, we support the people, too. While humans and animals may compete for resources in developing countries, there is a symbiotic relationship as well – demanding interventions that focus on both human and animal health. (We call this “One Health.”)
Out of ruin can come positive change. The situation for animals in Haiti—where half a decade ago veterinary services were almost nonexistent–is better than it was before. With your help, we’ll continue our efforts to raise awareness and provide hands-on treatment that wouldn’t otherwise be available. Help ensure we can be there for aniamls affected by disaster.