Help for Animals Arrives in Haiti

Jan 26, 2010, 12:31 ET from International Fund for Animal Welfare

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Jan. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A coalition of animal protection groups has arrived in Haiti to aid animals left imperiled by the devastating earthquake. The team represents a coalition – the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH) – that was formed specifically to deal with the Haiti crisis and is led by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

The ARCH team is meeting with officials from the Haitian government as well as international agencies such as the United Nations, to define the country's most pressing animal-related problems, as well as identifying options for a wide-ranging, long-term plan which includes options for creating and improving infrastructure for veterinary care, a large-scale vaccination program and animal population control services.

"The condition of these animals before the earthquake was not good, so we can't just simply put things back as they were," said Ian Robinson, IFAW's Director of Emergency Relief. "We need to deliver immediate relief to animals and to develop long-term plans for a lasting good."

"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 to undertake the tasks ahead."

"We had not considered including animals in the plans we're working up now, 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 in order to prevent the spread of diseases amongst the animal populations."

Only about 100,000 Haitian dogs (out of 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 illness, 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.

The first shipment of medicine and equipment needed to treat animals is expected to arrive in Port-au-Prince from the Dominican Republic today.

Most members of the ARCH team have returned to Santo Domingo, in order to assemble supplies for the next emergency relief exercise. 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.

About ARCH Coalition

The Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH) is jointly led by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in partnership with over a dozen of the world's leading animal protection organizations.

Animal welfare organizations formed the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH) so that we could work together to bring aid to as many animals, and in as short a time, as possible. At present, ARCH partners include: International Fund for Animal Welfare, World Society for the Protection of Animals, American Humane Association, Best Friends Animal Society, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (UK), In Defense of Animals, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Veterinary Medical Foundation, Antigua and Barbuda Humane Society, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, United Animal Nations, Kinship Circle, One Voice, Swiss Animal Protection and Foundation. ARCH members urge other animal welfare groups to join in the group efforts.

About the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) saves animals in crisis around the world. With headquarters in the United States and representation in 15 countries, IFAW and its 1.2 million supporters work passionately to prevent animal suffering.

About WSPA

The World Society for the Protection of Animals is the world's largest alliance of animal welfare organisations. With consultative status at the United Nations and a network of over a thousand member societies in 156 countries in the world, we strive to create a world where animal welfare matters and animal cruelty ends.

SOURCE International Fund for Animal Welfare