Hope Is Still Alive As 1,500+ Animals Have Been Rescued In Turkey Since The Devastating Earthquake

More than three weeks after the deadly earthquake in Turkey, the animal rescue team from Humane Society International (HSI) is still finding dogs and cats alive in abandoned apartments, damaged buildings, or wandering the streets.

HSI estimates that more than 1,500 animals―dogs, cats, rabbits, goldfish, a rooster, budgies, reptiles and more―have been transported to receive medical care at just the three main veterinary field clinics set up by local veterinarians and groups in the city of Antakya, Turkey. The organization estimates that tens of thousands of animals across the country have perished in the devastating earthquakes.

Most of the animals being rescued and brought to the clinics have suffered cuts, bruises, infected wounds, infected eyes, dehydration, starvation, and shock.  Unbelievably, despite most of these animals seeming to have had little to no access to food or water, they have survived against the odds.

“It’s remarkable that after more than three weeks since the first earthquake, our team is still finding animals alive, but they are in desperate need of help. Around 1,500 have been treated in just the three main veterinary field hospitals where we’re working in Antakya, and the numbers of dead animals across the country is likely to run into the tens of thousands,” said Kelly Donithan, HSI’s director of animal disaster response, who is leading HSI’s deployment. “The animals we’re finding still alive are often in abandoned and damaged apartments, where they’ve been all alone throughout this disaster.

“I can only imagine how frightening it must have been for them enduring four earthquakes over the past couple of weeks, and also experiencing the deafening drone of helicopters overhead,” continued Donithan. “When I think of how nervous my own animals are at home when there are loud bangs like fireworks, it’s heartbreaking to think how traumatized these animals must have been. Now they’re getting all the love and care they need to heal, but every day we’re finding more amidst the rubble and wreckage.”

HSI and the local veterinarians have been able to track down some of the owners desperate to hear news of their missing pets. One woman named Rumi was injured in the earthquake and evacuated to Istanbul but posted a plea on Facebook to find her cat Leyla. Upon seeing the post, HSI searched for Leyla with no success until they asked Rumi to send them a voice recording of her calling Leyla. On hearing her owner’s voice, a terrified Leyla eventually emerged and HSI was able to rescue her. Rumi traveled back from Istanbul – with both her legs in casts – to be reunited with Leyla.

“In the midst of earthquake aftershocks, loss and devastation, there are stories of hope. We have seen the love, comfort and joy first-hand as we reunite families with their beloved animals here in Turkey. It is overwhelming for those who are suffering unthinkable loss to be able to hold their own dog or cat – or even chicken, or pigeon – who they thought they may never see again,” said Donithan.

“Even during the darkest days, these reunions are bringing a glimmer of light and shining a spotlight on the bond and connection between humans and their animal companions. Being a part of these reunions is deeply moving,” continued Donithan. “Meeting earthquake survivor Rumi and being able to reunite her with her beloved cat Leyla, brought me and the team to tears. Her love for her cat was so obvious and brought her so much joy at a time when she’d been through so much pain.”

HSI’s team of experienced disaster responders have come from the United States, Europe, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia and India to help rescue animals from the aftermath of the earthquakes in Turkey.

HSI responds to disasters around the world to assist animals and communities in need, and in the past has stepped in to provide emergency treatment to animals affected by volcanic eruptions in Guatemala; deadly earthquakes in Nepal, Ecuador and Mexico; hurricanes, flash floods and cyclones in India, Haiti and Mozambique; and wildfires in Australia and Chile; as well as helping refugees and their pets fleeing the war in Ukraine.

If you would like to help HSI continue to rescue more animals affected by the devastating earthquakes, please consider donating HERE!

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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