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Animal casualties of the war in Iraq

Rescue team on standby to help animal casualties of the war in Iraq

A joint disaster relief team coordinated by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and member society, the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA), is currently awaiting final clearance from the Humanitarian Operations Centre in Kuwait, as requested by the US State Department, to aid the animal casualties of the war in Iraq.

The team, which is being coordinated by Trevor Wheeler, WSPA’s Director of Disaster Relief, and led by Jeremy Hulme, SPANA’s Chief Executive Officer, consists of four SPANA vets from Jordan and a mobile veterinary clinic, an invaluable asset during the rescue mission. The team, under a US military escort, will then travel to Baghdad to begin an initial assessment of the situation facing the animals of this war-torn country.

The team will be equipped with essential veterinary supplies and medicines to handle animal first aid, including treating wounds and helping starving and dehydrated animals. As WSPA expects the animal suffering in Iraq to extend well beyond Baghdad zoo, with the help of SPANA, which specialises in working animals, it will undertake an assessment of the wider problems facing all animals in Iraq, including livestock, equines, companion animals and strays. Following initial assessment of the situation, the two charity organisations will be better equipped to respond to the needs resulting from the war and continue their efforts accordingly.

Trevor Wheeler, WSPA’s Director of Disaster Relief, said, “We are aware, from reports in the media, of the dire situation for the animals in Baghdad Zoo and the private wildlife collections at the various palaces. Whilst they remain a priority we are also very concerned about the many other animals caught up in the conflict. We are hoping to cover each of these issues during the assessment phase of the operation and then to bring in the appropriate resources to deal with these issues on a prioritised basis.”

Jeremy Hulme, SPANA’s Chief Executive Officer, said, “At this time, there is little known about the conditions of the animals and resources available within the country. SPANA has seen the after effects of war – having been involved in rescue efforts in Kosovo and Zimbabwe. Too often people have little option but to abandon their animals and focus on their own survival. We work in countries where these animals are essential for survival and extremely valuable to both rural and urban people. Saving these animals means saving their livelihoods.”

Once the initial assessment has been carried out, WSPA plans to mobilise and coordinate animal welfare organisations from around the world in what may become a huge relief effort to help the animal victims of the war in Iraq. …

To date, financial or operational support has been pledged by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA), the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and WSPA member societies, the Brooke Hospital for Animals, the Donkey Sanctuary, Lega Anti Vivisezione (Italy) and RSPCA.

No stranger to war zones, WSPA is known for having provided direct relief for animals in previous conflicts, such as the previous Gulf War and conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo and currently in Afghanistan. SPANA’s experience of providing aid to animals caught up in war includes missions to Kosovo and Zimbabwe.

Editors’ Notes

WSPA is recognised by the United Nations and works to raise the standards of animal welfare throughout the world. As the leading international federation of animal welfare organisations, WSPA’s campaigns and projects are developed in partnership with more than 440 member societies in over 100 countries. Through its campaigns, education, training and animal rescue initiatives, WSPA seeks to ensure that the principles of animal welfare are universally understood and respected, and protected by effectively enforced legislation.

SPANA is dedicated to the protection and welfare of animals and works through locally registered ‘in-country’ organisations in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, Syria, Mali and Mauritania providing veterinary care and promoting humane animal husbandry through its Education Programmes. SPANA celebrates its 80th Anniversary this coming year and currently helps over 300,000 animals annually through its network of mobile veterinary clinics throughout North Africa and the Middle East. SPANA works with the poorest peoples of the world who are usually completely dependent on their working animals for their livelihood.

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