Animal rescuers in Turkey continue to save pets weeks after earthquake

Weeks after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey and Syria, a veterinarian and animal rescue team from Humane Society International who have deployed to Antakya, Turkey are responding to requests from locals to find their missing pets.

Following the original 7.8 magnitude earthquake and a second 6.4 magnitude aftershock last week, dogs and cats can be seen roaming the streets across Antakya, and desperate barks and meows can still be heard coming from abandoned and collapsed buildings. The Humane Society is working with a team of local vets responding to as many calls as possible.

Kelly Donithan, HSI’s director of animal disaster response, is leading HSI’s deployment.

Donithan said,Every day here our team is heading out to search for animals in the worst affected areas. We’re bringing back rescued dogs and cats suffering with cuts, bruising, malnutrition, dehydration and infections.”

A member of Humane Society International with a cat (image: Kelly Donithan/ Humane Society International/People)

According to Donithan, the Society is working with a team of local vets and volunteers in a veterinary field hospital tent, adding that the calls for help keep coming in.

“People who evacuated are worried for their pets left behind, so wherever possible we locate their apartments and find them,” Donithan added. “We’re also picking up animals on the street; we found a mother dog who had very recently given birth, her puppies were still blind but somehow she’d managed to keep them safe. When we settled her in a comfy bed at the hospital she was so exhausted she slept all day while her pups suckled.”

The team has been setting up water bowls on street corners to help animals who may be suffering from dehydration.

Donithan said it is hard to estimate how many animals have been impacted by this disaster, ‘but the numbers are certainly high’.

“It’s clear that for the people here who have lost everything, to know that their pet companions are safe means a lot and it is humbling for our animal rescue work to be so welcomed by the people we’re meeting in Antakya,” Donithan said.

Humane Society International’s team of experienced disaster responders have come from the United States, Europe, Mexico and Costa Rica, and will soon be joined by colleagues from Colombia and India. HSI has additionally provided an emergency grant of financial aid to local rescue groups Working Animals Rescue Foundation and Homeless Animals Protection Society, enabling them to dispatch veterinarians and response vehicles to get veterinary and relief supplies to the animals and their people most in need.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Turkey and Syria on 6 February. According to CNN, more than 4,300 people have been killed and thousands injured. Thousands of buildings collapsed in both countries. It was followed by a 6.3-magnitude aftershock earthquake that struck Turkey’s southern Hatay province, near the Syrian border last week.

To donate to Humane Society International’s Animal Rescue Fund, click here. The fund provide grants, vital supplies and funds the Society’s teams in emergency situations.


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