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Emergency aid for tsunami’s animal victims

For immediate release: Monday 17 January 2005

News release

Emergency aid underway for tsunami’s animal victims

- Long-term future of animals to play a key role in the recovery of the region

Disaster relief teams from the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), an international UN-recognised charity representing nearly 500 member societies worldwide, are coordinating emergency aid efforts currently underway for the animal victims of tsunami-struck parts of South East Asia.

WSPA veterinarians and animal care experts are working with local animal groups in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand to help protect abandoned livestock and companion animals, by supporting efforts to provide food and veterinary treatment for sick and injured animals, and establish temporary shelters. In addition, an experienced WSPA veterinarian will leave for India today.

Animal refugee camps to take in surviving animals in need of care are being set up and mobile veterinary clinics are already operational in the region. In Sri Lanka, hundreds of dogs, including those in refugee camps, have already been vaccinated against diseases that can spread in the aftermath of disasters.

Major General Peter Davies CB, WSPA Director General, said, “Although we can only guess at the true scale of the loss of animals and people, one thing is certain – animals will have shared in the fate of the people who have suffered the tragic effects of the tsunami. Animal shelters and veterinary facilities have been destroyed in affected areas and animal populations practically decimated. Our main priority now is to do what we can to safeguard the region’s surviving animals, many of which are malnourished, dehydrated and at risk of disease. Livestock and working animals are vital to the lives of rural communities that depend upon them for their very survival and helping animals has a real impact on the long-term process of people rebuilding their shattered lives.”

WSPA is concerned that the effects of this disaster could have serious long-term consequences for a region with an emerging animal welfare movement that was already struggling to contain the illegal trade in wildlife and diseases like rabies.

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