Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and the families affected by Hurricane Harvey,” says Al Hickey, Western Regional Director of the Humane Society of Canada.
“In the aftermath of natural disasters, The Humane Society of Canada is also asking people to remember animals, often the forgotten victims in such troubled times.” The animal charity says that while there are hundreds of relief agencies which continue to work to help people, there are only a relatively small handful of groups working to help animals.
“Each one of these hard hit communities includes families who are missing their dogs, cats, birds, other pets and livestock. Orphaned and injured wildlife are also at risk,” says HSC Executive Director, Michael O’Sullivan, who has experience working in disaster and war zones around the world.
As in the past, The Humane Society of Canada is working in partnership with the American Humane Association to provide desperately needed funds to buy and deliver food, veterinary supplies and rescue equipment into the hard hit areas. Founded in 1877, the American Humane Association is the oldest organization dedicated to protecting children and animals. Local and state animal protection organizations are now assuming full responsibility for coordinating all rescue, relief and recovery operations and cannot do it by themselves.
“Like people, animals require food, clean water and shelter. Some will die from injuries and disease without veterinary treatment and care. Others will begin competing with people for food resulting in conflicts between people and animals. We are talking about thousands of dogs, cats, birds, livestock and wildlife who have been affected and still need help,” says O’Sullivan.
The recovery and rebuilding phases to come involve providing foster homes, temporary shelter, reuniting lost pets with their families, finding new homes for animals that without families, and rebuilding shelters and wildlife centres. There are also plans for an aftermath assessment to analyze the effectiveness of the disaster relief efforts, and to encourage disaster preparedness through planning, education and legislation.
“There are tremendous resources being marshalled to provide direct aid to help people, and rightly so. We want to help animals with our special area of expertise. Helping animals is not only the right thing to do; it makes it easier for human relief workers to do their job."
Michael O’Sullivan, HSC Executive Director, who has worked in disaster and war zones, says that he has no illusions about the staggering challenges faced by people, animals and nature in overcoming the impact of this terrible disaster.
“What we accomplish will be measured by one animal at a time. Just a few short years ago, I was carrying out a rescue mission in the burning oil fields of the war zone that was Kuwait. Surrounded by death and destruction, I asked myself how much difference my efforts were really making. And as I looked down at the small girl holding a lamb in her arms, I realized just how much difference it made to both of them."
The animal charity is liaising with the American Humane Association and its contacts and groups in the affected areas to ensure that their animal relief efforts help the greatest number of animals in the most cost effective way possible.
The Humane Society of Canada has already committed funds from its Animal Disaster Relief Fund and is asking others to consider helping animals. All donations are gratefully acknowledged with a receipt for income tax purposes. To make a donation, please use one of the links to the left. You can donate online, by phone, fax and mail.