Update Sept. 20, 2017: HSI/Mexico stands ready and is assessing animal needs to respond to the devastation caused by the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that has killed more than 200 people in Mexico City, Morelos and Puebla. The organization’s veterinarians are now returning Oaxaca, Mexico, where they responded to the 8.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the country less than two weeks ago.
Update, Sept. 19, 2017: HSI’s Animal Rescue Team will remain in Tortola on the British Virgin Islands during Hurricane Maria. The team secured all 21 animals from the destroyed animal shelter on the island over the weekend. All the animals at the shelter survived the storm, but the team found them roaming around or hiding within the structure. They are now caring for them at a lightly damaged veterinary facility that is serving as HSI’s base.
HSI transported nine of the shelter dogs to a temporary boarding facility in the United States along with four owned but displaced animals—three dogs and one cat. HSI will reunite the displaced animals with their owners in the coming days.
Global animal charities Humane Society International and H/3 Foundation Inc. have launched an animal rescue and relief initiative in the British Virgin Islands, following the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma. The initial members of an emergency veterinary team have already arrived on the island of Tortola. Additional HSI veterinarians and technicians, as well as H/3 Foundation volunteers, are scheduled to arrive over the next several days, bringing crucial supplies including food, carriers, hay for farm animals and equipment to support the rescue efforts. HSI is also coordinating with Royal Caribbean cruise line in collecting animal supplies for their ship to take to the severely impacted island of St. Martin.
The organisations will also evacuate lost and displaced dogs and cats, and work to reunite families separated from their pets. HSI and H/3 Foundation are working to secure airlift and logistics to bring lost and stray animals from the BVI to shelters in the United States, while setting up local BVI veterinary clinics to provide emergency care and treatment for animal victims. Because many people in BVI, like caring individuals everywhere, find it extremely difficult to evacuate without their beloved pets, HSI and H/3 Foundation will work to immediately facilitate the travel certifications required for such animals.
Spencer B. Haber, H/3 Foundation’s founder and chairman, commented, “The BVI has always been a special community of generous and resourceful people, with a deep connection to the magical place they call home – and with the animals who share that home. Since I first visited many decades ago, the BVI and its people have favoured us with their friendship, hospitality and grace. So it is now our honour to be able to give something back – both in addressing an urgent, immediate need, but also as the first step in working together as a community to rebuild an even better BVI in the coming years. Having come to know the BVI spirit over the last 30+ years, I am confident that this community will emerge from this tragic period even stronger than it was before.”
“The devastation seen in these islands is heart-breaking,” said Adam Parascandola, director of animal protection and crisis response at HSI. “With almost all buildings badly damaged or gone, we know Hurricane Irma has affected many animals, including pets and farm animals, as well as the human population of the BVI. Following disasters, we typically find lost and bewildered animals, suffering from injuries, hunger, and dehydration/shock, and in need of immediate care. Our emergency responders and veterinary specialists have already started to evaluate the animal-related needs and challenges on the ground and will help to evacuate pets as needed.”
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