Animals in Disasters 

Courtesy of Brian Mwangi Wachira

When disaster strikes, the consequences are devastating to the people who depend on these animals for food, as a source of income or for companionship. They could be trapped in forest fires, injured from a collapsed building, drowning, starving or buried in a mud slide. Disasters whether natural or man-made do not choose whom to affect and often affect whatever is in its path. Both domesticated and wild animals can be victims of disasters. 
It is important to rescue animals during disasters since the same animals can rescue us during the recovery phase of the disaster for example as a source of food or emotionally in form of companionship to help us cope with the losses.  Animals are often affected by these disasters but are also the most neglected when such disasters occur. A true but sad fact is that after the humans have been saved, property is second and animals just an after thought. 

Rescuing animals can be in the form of offering veterinary related services such as treating and managing the affected. It can also involve offering feeds in times of scarcity as well as evacuating animals from danger and reuniting them with their owners. It takes a lot of preparedness and a team of highly trained professionals to effectively respond to disasters.

 Here in Kenya for example we have the Veterinary Emergency Response Unit (VERU)  that works in partnership with the World Animal Protection (WAP)  to respond to disasters. The response team is trained on how to dispose off carcasses after a disaster in order to avoid environmental harzards as well as proper handling of animals in distress to avoid injury or attacks. Outreach programs involve things like advising farmers to destock inorder to prevent the detrimental effects of drought.  This training is usually very thorough and intensive. Animals in disasters are usually distressed and can attack easily therefore caution should be taken. 

Remember that it takes a kind and gentle soul to think about animals in times of disasters. 



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