Animal welfare groups arrived in Haiti on Saturday to help protect earthquake victims by vaccinating stray dogs and maintaining the health of livestock.

One of the biggest animal-related threats posed by quake is an increased incidence of rabies, said Ian Robinson, of the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

"When you get situations with a large group of displaced people, and hungry dogs wandering around, then you've got the opportunities for dog bites to occur, and that obviously leads to the spread of rabies."

It is also important to maintain veterinary care for livestock, said Gerardo Huertas, of World Society for the Protection of Animals, because families in crisis need them all the more for food, milk, sale and survival.

"The concept of pets is quite foreign to Haitians," said Karen Ashmore, executive director of the Lambi Fund agricultural group in Haiti. "Most Haitians can barely feed themselves, much less a pet."

The Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti will start by vaccinating stray dogs against rabies, said one official. They also will round up dogs to feed and protect them. Stray dogs have been forming packs, sometimes eating human remains.

"There's nothing more difficult to watch than a semi-feral animal eating a human remain," said Dick Green of International Fund for Animal Welfare. "So the people react in the way you would expect them to react — they kill them. They either club them or shoot them or do something to them because they don't want that to happen. And the dog is just trying to survive."


TO THE RESCUE — 13 Comments

  1. People often forget about the plight of animals when there is a disaster. Fortunately the Humane Society is on the scene. I posted about it right here and there’s a link where you can donate.

  2. This picture is pretty much more than I can bear to look at. I hope the dog in it was seen and helped by the animal welfare groups. Thank God for IFAW. Also Ellie, thanks for the link to the Humane Society.

  3. I do not intend this to be a snarky comment.

    What is the best thing to do in this situation?

    If Haitians are not in a position to have dogs for pets, if the concept is culturally foreign to them, if stray dogs pose issues, and just vaccinating stray dogs and letting them back on the street only serves one benefit, less chance of rabies, would not the humane thing to do for both the dogs and the people is eliminate dogs for now?

    Unfortunate for dogs, unlike their canine forebears and modern day cousins, they are not a natural part of any habitat. So their elimination would perhaps be a blessing in Haiti.

  4. unlike their… forebears and modern day cousins, they are not a natural part of any habitat

    I understand there are people in the US who say similar things about Mexicans.

  5. OK, MP, now you’ve killed me. :-(..

    [In the coming MP v. Dahveed battle, I will be looking both sadly, and crossly, at you both.]

  6. I know that there are human beings that are dead, dying, injured, hungry, thirsty and living in unsanitary conditions that make them susceptible to diseases. I can appreciate that and I have donated as much as I can on my limited, fixed income.

    Looking at that poor, suffering dog, however, makes me want do to nothing more than bring her into my home, feed her until she is sleek and fat and show her love and a life of ease until the day she dies–a long time from now.

  7. I have no intention to rise to the bait JCF.

    But my point is meant for serious reflection. And it is not because I am not a dog person, although I melt at fotos of puppies, because I am a cat person, and I would be asking the same questions if this situation involved stray cats causing an issue.

  8. Erm, boys, I was being serious, you know. I thought it was quite a clever, multi-layered comment on the relative ethics of humanity.

    But, if you want to take it the wrong way, go ahead, as the bishop said to the new curate.

  9. Yes, cats are suffering too. Take a look at the Humane International page on the subject of relief efforts in Haiti. Scroll down to the Jan. 19th entry.

    The Humane Society folks really do know what they’re doing and they will not vaccinate a dog and turn it loose only to starve. They will do the right thing – no matter what that is. If an animal needs to be put down it will be put down humanely rather than just left to starve and/or feed on human remains.

    Maybe Haitians do not typically have pets. But Americans living there do. Please see the January 23rd entry about the Humane Society’s role in reuniting an American family with their two dogs.)

    Even if it’s best for the stray dogs to be put down, there needs to be someone there to do it properly. And that takes money. Even if we believe that most of what we can afford to give needs to go to humans, if we each throw just a few bucks (or quid) to the animal relief people, it WILL add up.