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Mercy Mission To Save Iraq's Animals

Mercy Mission To Save Iraq's Animals Calls On New Zealand Support

New Zealanders are being urged to support an urgent rescue mission to save the animal casualties of the war in Iraq, particularly the farm and working animals on which ordinary Iraqis depend for their survival.

Veterinary medical supplies and fodder are desperately needed to help local vets treat starving and dehydrated animals after dwindling supplies were looted or destroyed in the conflict, according to the Australian & New Zealand director of the World Society for Protection of Animals (WSPA), Georgia Stephenson.

"Emergency relief is needed now to relieve the suffering of many thousands of animals. Iraq has a good veterinary infrastructure and trained, local staff are waiting to begin work but they lack the drugs to treat the animals," Ms Stephenson said.

WSPA has made the public plea today after the organisation's senior veterinarian, Dr John Gripper, returned this month from Iraq where he assessed the animal welfare situation.

Working with its UK partner SPANA, WSPA has organised a convoy of mobile veterinary clinics carrying essential veterinary drugs and 30 tonnes of fodder. It is already making its way to the agricultural region around Basrah, in southern Iraq, where the cattle, sheep, goats, camels donkeys and horses on which rural communities depend will be the focus of rescue efforts.

"Whatever their personal feelings about the recent conflict, we urge New Zealanders to consider its silent, innocent victims: the animals. Many of these animals will die if help does not come quickly."

"We also want to begin the long process of raising animal welfare standards in a country that has endured years of hardship. With the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) not expected to be able to deliver longer-term supplies for at least 3 months, WSPA and SPANA will play a vital interim role."

As the only animal welfare member of the International Council of Voluntary Organisations (ICVA), WSPA works closely on animal disaster relief around the world with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

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