May 8, 2008
An emergency veterinary team from the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) is on stand-by in Thailand awaiting entry authority to cyclone struck Myanmar to assess and then relieve the suffering of thousands of animals that human survivors depend on for food and their livelihoods.
WSPA is receiving daily updates from The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) while preparing its rapid assessment and response team.
Philip Russell MBE, WSPA’s Director of Disaster Management, said: “No-one else, Governments, humanitarian NGOs or owners have the resources to care for these animals, most of which are owned by poor impoverished families. If those that survived die, so too will the livelihoods of thousands of people.”
He added that, as WSPA so often finds, when operating in emergencies many families will have or be in the process of selling off their remaining livestock at severely reduced prices to ensure some monetary value for immediate subsistence, mainly because they cannot now keep them alive.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) are also planning to join WSPA’s emergency response team in assessing and responding to the needs of animals.
One way of helping to stop the spread of disease is to separate animals into temporary holding pens. Emergency feed will also be needed as it is unlikely that there is any food for surviving livestock in and around camps or spare hay of any type will be available in Myanmar. Any precious grass that is not ruined by the flood will be owned by individuals and will not be for sale.
Wet conditions, lowered immune systems, endemic disease such as Foot and Mouth and overcrowded camps create a highly disease prone and contagious environment. WSPA will seek to advise government livestock veterinarians on the need for and how to deliver veterinary checks to enable preventative treatment in the form of antibiotics, vaccinations and de-worming.
“WSPA works to align animal welfare and humanitarian agendas to reduce poverty, hunger and disease in humans. Equally, by complimenting humanitarian efforts in this way we increase the number of animals we protect,” said Russell.