In response to the catastrophic 7.0 earthquake in Haiti this week, non-profit animal welfare groups joined forces with the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH). The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) created this organisation and subsequent collaboration with the groups in order to rescue the animals who were left behind after the quake. Seems like a worthy cause, but nothing seems to fit.
The ASPCA announced in its press release, “There are an estimated 5 million head of livestock in the country (mostly goats).”
The area hardest hit did in fact have goats, as the non-profit groups pointed out. However, the 5 million figure for livestock was been greatly exaggerated.
The ASPCA and HSUS also claimed that there are companion animals. “…a large stray dog population, an untold number of companion animals.” This is really tough sell, in an area so poor that scanning trash for food was the norm. It would be utter suicide for the more than 80 percent of those are poor in the country to house and feed a companion animal. Approximately 57 percent were deeply impoverished, and the figure is now expected to rise significantly.
“I didn’t see one cat while I was there, and I would have noticed that because I’m very much a cat person,” said James Patrick Jordan, who was in Haiti for a human rights delegation just six days prior to the quake. “There didn’t appear to be a lot of overcrowded factory farming of animals, and since they weren’t, as a rule, confined to buildings that would have fallen on them.”
In 2008, a series of strong storms ravished Haiti, which wiped out most of the livestock and crops. The people there were left with nothing and the situation was grim. Food prices were distended and children were in desperate need of aid. Before Tuesday’s quake, it was said that Haiti never fully recovered from these storms. Jordan said that the people mainly survived sparingly on goats, and that there were no companion animals. This fits with the statistics left over from the 2008 storms.
The groups involved in raising funds for a mass number of animals, which don’t seem to exist, includes the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). The ASPCA and its number of animal welfare groups, are also involved. These include American Humane, Best Friends, HSUS and Humane Society International (HSI).
The ASPCA’s alert also states, “IFAW and WSPA have also begun to stock a mobile clinic with vaccines, antibiotics, bandages, food, and other supplies in anticipation of bringing direct aid to animals.” In an e-mail sent out to its members on 13 January, IFAW had stated that it would wait 1-2 weeks before heading into Haiti.
The animals are being eaten at a rapid pace. By the time anyone steps in – there will be none to save. During such a cataclysmic natural disaster, one would think of saving all living things not just those they deem “valuable.”
IFAW statement – “As always with disasters like this, the humanitarian rescue efforts will be the focus in the first week or so… The immediate priorities will be getting food, clean water, shelter and medical attention to the survivors.”
Knowing this and knowing that in 2008 nearly everything was wiped out to feed over 9 million people in Haiti, IFAW chose to wait. The main objective of this org, and the other orgs collaborating with them, is to save animals and not necessarily human-animals.
“After those immediate human needs are met, IFAW’s Emergency Response team will be ready to assist the animal victims in any way that we can.”
Piles of dead men, women and children strewn the streets. Over 40 percent of the population consisted of children under the age of 14 prior to the quake. The mortuaries cannot keep up with the bodies. People are languishing in the hot sun, wandering aimlessly desperate for shade.
Several women have given birth this week – without assistance. They are encouraged to breastfeed, all the while having nothing to eat or drink to sustain their flow. Those with babies caught in this nightmare, who were not breastfed, are now using contaminated water to mix baby formula.
The wounded are piling up in hospitals. Many are being treated by the side of the road. The situation in Haiti is grim and waiting for aid is not an option. That’s the reality.