LA PAZ—In the aftermath of a landslide that swept away dozens of homes last week, leaving hundreds of people without a place to live, a team from Humane Society International is in La Paz to provide veterinary care and to help reunite dogs and cats with their families. An innovative tattoo numbering system, established by HSI to identify animals that have been spayed or neutered, has helped displaced residents find their pets.
The first 24 hours after the landslide were chaotic, with confused animals frantically looking for their owners and vice versa. Well-meaning individuals took seemingly lost animals to other locations without consulting neighbors, further separating pets from their families. Thanks to HSI’s unique alphanumeric code, which is tattooed on a dog’s or cat’s ear during spay/neuter surgery, and the records that HSI keeps of these surgeries, some animals were returned to their families after a tattoo was identified.
HSI’s team has also provided on-site emergency veterinary care where needed and assisted with animals who needed longer-term medical attention in temporary shelters. The team is currently working with government rescue agencies to assess the needs of animals whose families were displaced by the landslide and to provide care once the pets have adjusted to their temporary homes and their stress level is reduced.
Since 2013, HSI has worked with city officials, local organizations and veterinarians to develop high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter programs in La Paz. Alexandra Rothlisberger, director of companion animals and engagement and manager of HSI’s Bolivia program, said, “We plan to provide veterinary services to the animal victims of this disaster in the weeks to come. Now that these animals and their families will be living in smaller quarters, it is important to spay or neuter and vaccinate pets to avoid unwanted reproduction and to prevent the spread of diseases like rabies, which is endemic in Bolivia.”
HSI will continue to support the impacted families and their pets by providing pet food as well as veterinary treatment until they are able to find stability in their lives again.
Photos available here.
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