WSPA and the ARCH team arrived in Haiti over the weekend, to aid animals affected by the devastating earthquake.
The team represents the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH), formed specifically to deal with the Haiti crisis and led by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
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How are we helping?
The ARCH team is meeting with officials from the Haitian government and international agencies such as the United Nations, to define the country’s most pressing animal-related problems.
“Eleven days after the earthquake, we found a city in ruins. The country will not be able to start the massive rebuilding work required while its economy is broken,” said Gerardo Huertas, WSPA Disaster Management Director for the Americas. “But we have also met very professional people in the government, who have shown a deep interest in working together with us and are committed to providing us the support we need for the work ahead of us.”
The team is also helping to work up an extensive long-term plan which includes options for creating and improving infrastructure for veterinary care, a large-scale vaccination program and animal population control services.
“We had not considered including animals in our recovery plans, but after meeting the ARCH team, we can see that it would be good to do so,” said Jean Marie Claude Germain, the Haitian Minister of Environment.
“In addition to preventing deforestation and protecting our water reserves, we are also discussing the need for a vaccination program to prevent the spread of diseases in animal populations,” he added.
Building animal welfare in Haiti
According to figures from the Haiti government, only about 100,000 Haitian dogs (from an estimated population of 500,000) were vaccinated against rabies last year.
In addition, the Haitian government lacks sufficient medicines and vaccines to protect pigs, cattle and other livestock against common illnesses, such as anthrax and pig cholera.
“We are now at high risk of disease, which is why it is so important to start a vaccination campaign as soon as possible,” said Dr. Michel Chancy, Haiti’s Minister of Animal Production.
What will happen next?
Most members of the ARCH team have returned to the Dominican Republic’s capital, Santo Domingo, in order to assemble supplies for the next emergency relief exercise.
The first shipment of medicine and equipment needed to treat animals is expected to arrive in Port-au-Prince from the Dominican Republic today. A mobile veterinary clinic is also en route and will increase our capacity to help the people and animals of Haiti.
The coalition team will also continue its assessment in the areas beyond Port-au-Prince, implementing immediate veterinary aid to animals in cooperation with the Haitian government.
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