Providing care for hurricane-stricken animals

Disaster relief - a WSPA vet checks a horse affected by Hurricane Felix, Nicaragua

In September 2007, WSPA received an emergency appeal from member society Universidad de Ciencias Comerciales. Hurricane Felix had hit Nicaragua.

The rural Northern Atlantic Autonomous Region was devastated. Members of the local Miskito community had died or were missing.

The survivors faced a bleak future. The Miskito farmers rely on animals for their livelihoods, yet 96% of their crops and many of their animals were lost.

Any such losses cause accute financial strain. And the local people rely on milk to feed their families.

WSPA, supported by the Nicaraguan Ministry of Agriculture, acted to protect animals from further suffering and limit the damage to local livelihoods.

After the hurricane

WSPA, Universidad de Ciencias Comerciales (UCC) and the Nicaraguan Ministry of Agriculture (MAGFOR) went to assess the situation.

We found:

  • The surviving farm animals were hungry and in pain from disease and injury.

  • Domestic animals were plagued by mange, parasites and respiratory diseases.

  • Stress, diarrhea, wounds, oral lesions, emaciation and skin problems were common to domestic and working animals.

  • The psychological distress of the local people was made worse by seeing household animals suffer.

During the assessment, the team provided emergency care for more than 100 animals wounded by the storm.

Protecting the future

WSPA worked with UCC and MAGFOR to deploy three emergency veterinary teams to the devestated villages. Juan Carlos Murillo, WSPA’s Disaster Management Veterinary Coordinator, headed the operation.

Over a seven day period the teams administered primary care to 6,310 animals, including cows, horses, pigs, chickens and dogs.

Murillo said: “We checked and de-wormed them and administered preventive medicine. The idea is to strengthen these animals so they can deal better with their current situation and don’t get sick later.”

Veterinary kits were left with local UCC-trained ‘veterinary promoters’ so they could follow up with prescribed treatments and prevent diseases spreading to humans in the following months.

Many villagers told the emergency vet teams: ‘Uba tinky yan mani dukira doukramba kli yu wala bal bahuna watsna’, which means 'Thank you very much for all you have done for our animals'.

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